No matter what diet you follow, there are certain health codes we can all agree upon: Refined sugar is bad, along with hydrogenated oils, highly processed packaged foods, too much meat, too much dairy, and not enough plant foods. Strangely enough, most people don’t have a problem reducing their intake of cookies and chips, but giving up creamy, rich foods can be an impossible task. Without them, we can feel deprived of comfort and under-satiated. Gooey pasta, buttery potatoes, creamy salad dressing, cheese, and ice cream all hit this same pleasure button.
Those on a ketogenic diet and/or with access to high-quality, local dairy will rave about the benefits of grass-fed butter and omega 3-rich eggs. And whether you subscribe to this or not—personally, I love a generous pat of real butter with my vegetables—it never hurts to have a plant-based alternative in your kitchen repertoire. Ingredients like beans, when blended, give a similar texture to heavy cream. Combining them with nutritional yeast—a vegan cheese substitute that’s high in vitamin B12—lends a rich umami flavor.
This white bean dip is another easy, cheap and healthy recipe to add your ‘’go-to’’ list. The best part is how versatile it is! Eat it solo with vegetables or pita. Use it in place of mayonnaise in a sandwich. Or stir it into cooked pasta instead of creamy bechamel sauce. One of my favorite applications is to bake it in the oven until it’s hot and bubbly, and then serve it as an appetizer alongside dippers.
Any kind of white bean will work for this recipe. Cannellini beans and navy beans are both standard supermarket fare. Cannellini are large and kidney-shaped, while navy beans are smaller and round. Their nutritional profile is more or less the same, packing protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, iron, folate, vitamin K, calcium… the list goes on. It is more economical to buy dried beans, soak overnight, then rinse and cook them the following day. But if you’re in a time-crunch, canned beans work just as well. Remember to rinse the beans of their sludgy, soaking liquid, as that’s where you’ll run into gassy digestion. Use a colander to clean the beans under a running tap until the water underneath runs clear.
KALE AND WHITE BEAN DIP RECIPE
- 2 cups cannellini or navy beans, rinsed well
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup good quality olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 5-7 sage leaves
- 1 cup kale
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
1. In a small pot, bring the olive oil to a low heat. Mince both the garlic and sage leaves and add them to the oil to infuse. Meanwhile, trim and finely chop the kale, making sure to remove any woody stems. Add the kale to the oil at the last minute to soften. (You do not need to cook it until tender, but just until it’s no longer raw.)
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the beans, stock, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Process until perfectly smooth. Note: If using a blender, you may have to pause every five or so seconds to scrape down the sides.
3. Add the infused olive oil to the blender, but hold back one tablespoon for garnish later. Pulse quickly to combine the flavors. Do not puree, or you will end up with a green dip. Four – five quick pulses will combine flavors and make a lovely white dip with green specks.
4. Scrape out the dip into your serving dish and garnish with the remaining oil. If you wish, a few more beans and a sprig of sage will elevate the presentation.
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