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When I Dip You Dip We Dip: Tuscan Bean Dip

tuscanbeandipThis tasty spread was inspired by–actually, I can’t remember what it was inspired by–some random Italianate chicken dish with similar flavors? How enlightening I am… But, even without a fascinating backstory, this dip is totally worth the minimal time it takes to pull it together. Pungent garlic, earthy sage, spicy chili, creamy cannellini beans, and bright lemon combine to make an irresistible spread for crostini or crudite.

I depend on it at parties big and small, set out with a bright jumble of vegetables, to make even the most decadent hors d’oeuvre spread look healthy and colorful.  It doesn’t hurt that the stuff is delicious–personally, I’d keep it on tap if I could.

Tuscan Bean Dip

1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs finely julienned garlic (see Notes)
1 chile de arbol, stem and seeds removed
2 tbs fresh sage, minced
2 14 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons (to taste)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine olive oil, garlic, chile de arbol, and sage in a small saucepan. Cook, covered, over lowest possible heat till garlic is lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans, oil mixture, salt, pepper, and most of the lemon juice. Pulse to combine, stopping to scrape down the bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water if necessary to thin it out. Adjust seasonings; adding lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.

Notes & Variations:
I find that minute little sticks of garlic catch the processor blade much better than minced garlic does, so just slice each clove as thinly as possible to get small slivers. 

For a thicker sandwich spread that can’t be beat with grilled chicken and peppery greens: omit the water, reserve 1/3 of the beans and pulse them in coarsely after the remaining beans and other ingredients have been pureed together.

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