Beans, Beans, Beans, The More You Eat The More You...

Smashed White Bean Dip on Sourdough

Yea you know the ending. Because of that little ditty, beans get a bad rap, but they are actually great for you, thanks to their high protein and fiber content. They're also heart healthy with a wide array of vitamins and minerals in them, minus the high sodium canned varieties. If the health factor isn't enough for you, they are one of the cheapest sources of protein you can buy.

Beans come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, from the petite and nutty lentil to the big and creamy lima bean. Canned beans, usually around 25 cents per serving, become an easy meal in no time flat with the addition of a few pantry staples and dried beans, an even cheaper alternative, at around 15 cents per serving, become rich with flavor in the crockpot and are ready to eat when you get home after a long day. Want to give beans a starring role in your diet, but don't want embarrassing fireworks in your pants? Rinse, rinse, rinse your beans. The liquid they soak in contains all the toot makers.

As a vegetarian, well a vegetarian trying and failing to assimilate into meat eating culture, I eat several types of beans every day. I use black beans for sweet potato burritos, kidney beans for spicy chili, lentils for risotto with a protein kick, and the list goes on. One of my favorite beans is the cannelinni bean, because of it's ability to take on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. I usually make it into a spread that can then be used in sandwiches or wraps as the main protein source. Below are my two main recipes I use to create a spread using cannellini beans, but I often find myself exploring the spice cabinet to infuse them with new flavors. Served with bread for appetizers or lettuce for a speedy lunch, these dips create a delicious dish for around $1. Be prepared to eat well. Enjoy!

White Bean Dip Two Ways

Smashed White Bean Dip

1 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, diced (or less depending how strong you like it)
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a sauce pot (read: not skillet) heat the olive oil over medium and add the onion. Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the beans and water and stir occasionally until the water becomes absorbed and the beans begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and begin pressing the beans against the sides of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon to create a chunky, mashed potato-like texture. Remove from heat and serve immediately with toasted bread.

Creamy White Bean Spread

1 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Purée until smooth, adding more olive oil if needed to achieve your desired consistency. This can be eaten cold or microwaved for a few seconds before using as a sandwich spread.

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