Friday, February 2, 2007

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

I know I've trashed the Food Network before on this blog -- mostly Rachel Ray -- and I apologize for that. I really do like the Food Network; I just don't like Rachel Ray. I know she's popular, and she has her place, even in my house: I've watched her show a few times, and it's enjoyable. But she doesn't make the type of food that I want to make in my kitchen, and I think that whole 30-minute thing is kind of false advertising.
Anyhow, while Ray isn't really my cup of tea, I'm a big fan of Giada De Laurentis. I don't know how she stays so skinny while eating all that stuff, but she's such a soothing presence in the kitchen. She never shouts, never whines, and never almost cuts herself because she's busy telling a crazy story about her cousin's friend's dog's girlfriend. I can imagine actually cooking with Giada, which is why I like her show. And I'm Italian, too, so the food speaks to me. I know her cuisine isn't exactly classic Italian food, but it's fun to watch her prepare it, and she introduced me to the cannellini bean. For that I am forever grateful. I last mentioned these beans in the Butternut Squash Soup recipe, which was my first foray into using these beans in a context other than this dip. They really are extremely creamy beans, which makes them an excellent binder in a mostly vegetable-based soup, but they also work well for a dip like this because of that silky texture.
This dip is the first recipe that I ever made from her Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes book, which I bought with a gift certificate that I didn't know what to do with. I'm slightly embarrassed that I own this book -- I already know how to make the perfect red sauce, thank you, and I don't know that I need to be taught the basics on Italian food, which is what this book is supposedly for, but most of the recipes really are fantastic. This one is for a white bean dip, which she claims is the Italian version of hummus. She also gives instructions for making pita chips, but I've never tried those -- I just serve with tortilla chips and everybody has always been happy with that. This dip really flew off the plate the last time I served it at a gathering -- it's creamy, fairly healthy, and extremely tasty. The recipe requires a food processor, which I don't own (as you probably know by now) so we made it in the blender. It didn't work as well as it should have with the small amount of oil in the recipe, so we had to add more. I'd advise just making it in a processor if you can, because that will make a less oily dip. But, if necessary, a blender can be used.

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
Begin making the pita chips, because they take about 20 minutes or so to prepare and bake. While they're baking, make the dip, and everything should be ready to eat all at once. Preheat the oven to 400º and split 4 pita pockets in half, so you have two skinny rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges. Brush each side with olive oil -- you'll use about 2 tablespoons total -- and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a mixture made from 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Bake these in the oven for 8 minutes. Flip each chip and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are golden and crisped.
While the pita chips are baking, combine in the food processor 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (be sure to rinse them thoroughly and drain) with 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh flat parsley leaves, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (the juice from about half a lemon should suffice.) Season with approximately 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.
Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, then gradually blend in 1/3 a cup of olive oil, until the dip is creamy. Season with more ground pepper and serve with the warm pita chips (or with tortilla chips, if you prefer.)
We'll be eating this during the Superbowl; I hope you will be, too.


Sarah said...

i don't know if you like pumpkin, but i love it! one really yummy side dish to make is pumpkin with white beans.
start with heating oil with onion and hot pepper (here they use them whole and then pick them out at the end, the oil stays spicy.) then add chopped up pumpkin, and at the end when everything is nice and mushy add the white beans. molto yum yum!

i made that same dip one time, but apparently italians don't actually eat it. daniele was like, "why don't you just make hummus?" then he made hummus to prove to me it was better. loser!

also, it's so worth making pita chips, especially if you brush them them in butter and bake, also molto yum yum!

i am going to try to write a comment in every single post from now on.

love your new biggest fan and follower,


K8 said...

I love pumpkin! I'll have to try that sometime.
Do you use raw pumpkin, or can you do it with canned? I ask because the last time I had a pumpkin to cook with it was too hard to cut through.
This dip is really really good, but I can't imagine that it's actually popular in Italy. It's a lot like hummus, but a little different.
We'll do it with the pita chips next time due to your rave review!
Yay for comments! Yay for Sarah!

Sarah said...

hmmm, here you can buy pumpkin in slices, as in like 1/4 of a pumpkin. then you just cut away the peel and cut it into chunks. if you can't find it like that i don't know what you should do!

i will try to write a post about sartu later. it's an amazing dish from naples that has rice, mozzarella, meatballs, sausage ragu and peas in it. baked in a ring form to seem like a really trashy american dish from the 50s rather than an ancient italian one. but it is REALLY REALLY good!

K8 said...

Sartu sounds great -- I'd love if you wrote a post about that!
I've never used a ring mold to bake, but I've always wanted to try it. I'll probably have to buy one first to do that, though..!

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