Quick Lunch: Butter Bean Dip & Crudites

Now I know I’ve been a bit of a food snob at times in these blog pages, for instance when it comes to tins and jars and stock cubes. But beans on toast, as a light lunch or supper, just isn’t something I ever do. I do, however, do bean dips quite often and really … they don’t take much longer than heating up a tin of beans and toasting some bread – and the difference is … well, we’re talking different planets here.

I really don’t keep bought stock cubes and baked beans in my cupboard, but I do always have various tins and jars on hand: tins of tomatoes; tins of chickpeas, butter beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans; a jar of tahini; tins of good quality, sustainable tuna in olive oil; Dijon mustard; and jams and chutneys. There are definitely times when a tin and a jar come into their own – and most specifically, for this recipe. OK, so a purist will buy dried beans and soak them overnight … But this is a time when tins work well (a bit like frozen peas, for which I have a bit of an addiction) … and this is also about an almost instant, last-minute light lunch.

When I make hummus I always use Simon Hopkinson’s recipe in his wonderful book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories (and one of my own Top Ten Cookery Books). But I often vary it slightly, for instance use beans rather than chickpeas, as today: butter beans, cannellini beans or even a tin or mixed beans – so experiment and see what you like best. I also put in slightly more tahini and cumin. So, here’s what I made today – and a big bonus is there’s plenty left for tomorrow!

Butter Bean Dip & Crudites

Drain a 400g tin butter beans and put the beans in a food processor. Add the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoon tahini. Grind 1 teaspoon cumin seed with a mortar and pestle, add 1 garlic clove and 1 level teaspoon salt, crush together and mix to a paste. Add to the beans. Shake in a few drops of Tabasco, grind in some black pepper and then pulse the food processor a few times to start to combine. Now, very slowly, as  if you’re making mayonnaise, dribble in 100ml olive oil with the processor turned on.

Once the mixture is nice and smooth, check seasoning, then transfer to a bowl. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and add a sprinkling of paprika. I served this with a nice fresh traditional flute from Paul bakery but pitta bread is good too, and I usually have some in the freezer ready to pop into the toaster. I cut up some tomatoes, carrot and sweet pepper to dip into the lovely, creamy bean mixture but use any vegetables you have to hand – cucumbers, celery, and cauliflower florets make great crudites. What a fabulous tasting, healthy and almost instant lunch.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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