When you’re vegetarian or vegan, clean, tasty sources of protein are always welcome. If you don’t like or don’t tolerate soy very well, options can be limited. The truth is, most vegetarians and vegans get plenty of protein in their diets, but we can’t just slap a slab of meat into a pan and let it cook in its own juices. Preparation is a bit more involved. But, in my opinion, that’s a big part of the fun of it.
When I stopped eating meat in 1978 there were very few meatless convenience foods. I learned to cook from scratch, and I’ve continued to do that even though the options for more convenient food are exponentially bigger these days.
Back when most canned beans were cooked with lard, I learned about cooking dried beans. In addition to the fact that dried beans are very inexpensive compared with canned, they just taste better and are less likely to be laden with salt and other undesirables. (Not that there’s anything wrong with salt; I just prefer to salt things myself.)
Cooking dried beans in a pressure cooker cuts the cooking time way down. I know that pressure cookers have a reputation for exploding without warning, but these days, they are very safe, much safer than the scary cookers of legend. Check this guide to pressure cookers.
This white bean dip comes from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, a big, thick, classic book that features recipes from all around the world. In 1990 when the book was published, it was written to accommodate Moosewood’s customers who loved coming to the restaurant on Sundays, when one country’s cuisine was featured. This dip comes from the section featuring cuisine from Armenia and the Middle East.
It’s traditional to serve this dip with pita bread, but I’ve found it to be tasty on pasta or grains with some roasted veggies on the side. It’s also great with tortilla chips or crudites. This recipe makes a LOT of dip, so feel free to get creative with serving it. You can also easily cut it in half and still have lots to play with. Enjoy it for Meatless Monday and beyond!
Puréed White Bean Dip
- 2 cups dried white beans (navy, pea, cannellini or great northern)
- 6 cups water (or half water and half veggie stock)
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 t cayenne
- 2 T capers
- 2 T olive oil mixed with 1/2 t paprika
- lemon wedges
- warmed pita bread, cut in wedges
Soak the beans overnight or quick soak them, and then drain. Cover with 6 cups of water and cook about an hour and a half until very tender. If you use a pressure cooker, cook the presoaked beans for 15 minutes on high pressure, remove from heat and let it come to zero pressure on its own (about another 20-30 minutes). Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Purée the beans in batches in a blender or food processor with the oil, lemon juice and garlic. Add a little of the reserved cooking liquid if necessary for a creamy and smooth consistency. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne.
Spread the dip in a shallow dish or serve in individual bowls or ramekins. Garnish with a sprinkling of capers and a drizzle of the paprika and olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges and warmed pita bread.