Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Healthy Appetizer Hiding in Your Pantry


white bean dip

White bean dip is my new favorite food. Cheap, easy to whip up, endlessly adaptable and healthy! I keep a fairly large stash of cannellini beans on hand for tossing into chili, soups or salads. I prefer cannellinis for their mild, creamy, slightly nutty characteristics. Recently I’ve been blending them up with heart healthy olive oil, a little lemon juice, and fresh or dried herbs for a creamy dip that you can serve with just about anything!

Cannellini beans are loaded with nutrients your body needs. They help reduce cholesterol, prevent headaches and give you energy to spare.  They are low in fat, high in fiber and have twice as much iron as beef! That’s pretty impressive when you consider that you can generally get a can of cannellini beans for about a buck (and they’re even cheaper if you get them dried) and one cup of cannellinis packs 16 grams of protein! For reference, four ounces of beef contains 26 grams of protein and the recommended daily intake of protein for women is 46 grams.

My first taste of white bean dip came courtesy of my gorgeous friend, Jaimie, who served me her dip at a lunch she hosted. Fantastic! Now I like to make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for random salty snack cravings. It’s also a perfect snack to give my kindergartener when he gets home from school. He loves it, and he’s been quite the picky eater lately! A scoop of this dip with a handful of baby carrots will keep you going until dinnertime! It takes only a few minutes to put together, so it’s a great thing to make if you have guests drop in. You can serve it with anything; crudités, pita chips, pretzels, etc., etc., etc.


Basic White Bean Dip

2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2-3 cloves of garlic, grated with a Microplane or finely chopped

a handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped, or a teaspoon or so of your favorite dried herb (oregano is great here!)

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

paprika (smoked, if you have it) for garnish

Add beans, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to your food processor and blitz for 2-3 minutes until everything is fully incorporated and creamy. Add a little extra olive oil or lemon juice to lighten the texture if you like. (How easy was that!?)

Serve with pita chips or crudités and enjoy!


Make-Your-Own Pita Chips

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice your pita into wedges. (I like to cut the ‘layers’ apart first so I get twice as many chips from one pita!)

Lay them on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (You can play around with garlic or onion powder, dried herbs, or a little parmesan here too.)

Flip them over and repeat with the other side.

Bake for 3-4 minutes. Flip the chips over again and bake for another 3-4 minutes or until browned and crispy!



Article first published as The Healthy Appetizer Hiding in Your Pantry on Blogcritics.

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