By Freya Bellin
In making this recipe, I was reminded to never underestimate the power of fresh herbs. I went with a mix of pretty much every herb listed below (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon, thyme), and despite my concerns that the flavors might clash, everything came together. The leeks and herbs made my kitchen smell like a garden, and the color is gorgeous. Cannellini beans make a great base for this dish. They’re very creamy but relatively neutral in flavor, so they take well to the herbs and leeks. The result was earthy and fresh—not to mention quite versatile. As noted below, you could serve this dish with fish or chicken (you may want a chunkier, hand-mashed consistency for that), or you can puree it and use it as a topping for crostini, as I did. And I will admit to just eating it by the spoonful as well.
After a quick taste-test, I decided to add just about a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice (about 1/3 of a fresh lemon) to the mixture. The citrus really brightened up the flavors and gave it a nice zing at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Pureed White Beans with Tons of Fresh Herbs
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes with cooked or canned beans
This puree has a stunning green color from all of the fresh herbs and is the perfect dip—warm, cold, or at room temperature—for toasted bread or crudites. Or serve it as a main dish under bits of crumbled bacon, sausage, or prosciutto, or a small piece of simply cooked chicken or fish.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 leek, white part and some of the green, trimmed, well rinsed, and chopped; or 1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped mixed mild herbs, like parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, or chervil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, tarragon, or thyme
3 cups cooked or canned cannellini, navy, or other white beans, drained, liquid reserved
About 1 cup bean-cooking liquid, stock or water, or more as needed
Salt and black pepper
1. Put the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and cook a minute or 2 more.
2. If you want the mixture super-smooth, transfer it—along with the beans—to a blender, food processor, or food mill and process, adding as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not watery puree. If you want a lumpier texture, mash the beans right in the pan with a fork or potato masher, adding liquid slowly to get them as soupy as you like.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; taste and add more if necessary. Heat and serve immediately or keep warm over low heat for up to an hour or so. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil if you like.