Tuesday, April 3, 2012

my love affair with dips continues...and, a recipe for bean dip

As food-loving as I am, there are times when I feel like I could happily live on popcorn (lately it's homemade rosemary and garlic popcorn), grapefruit, and brownies for a few days. Especially when A. is out of town for work for days on end... like the past week. During these times, I tend to not have defined mealtimes, and instead favor grazing and snacking. But I try to make the best of it, and not subsist exclusively on those three things above.

As you can probably tell, I love dips, as seen in this post here. I love the simplicity and versatility of it, and it makes me feel better about myself when I snack on crunchy things like pita chips when I dip it into something healthy. In most cases, the dips I like to make are legume/bean-based. But after making maybe 3 or 4 flavors of hummus (plain, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, spicy...), it gets old after a while.

Which is why I was intrigued when I saw this recipe for a "cheesy" bean dip. I don't use nutritional yeast much, as required in this recipe. The distinct smell of nutritional yeast takes some getting used to, so I've only used it twice - once in a mac and cheese and another time in a baked spinach artichoke dip, either to supplement the cheese (and make it lighter) or replace the cheese entirely. I went through a phase in which I wanted to avoid dairy, and nutritional yeast came in handy as it adds a salty bite - an almost cheesy flavor especially when you can "disguise" it in baked dishes like mac and cheese and artichoke dip (you don't really smell it in the finished product). Plus it has vitamin B12, which is always good to have in a vegetarian diet - so I appreciate seeing recipes such as this one I'm writing about, because I have to admit I'm not too adventurous with nutritional yeast.

This is a great way to incorporate beans into your diet, without having "heavy" bean stews. Now that it's officially spring, I'm trying to lighten up my recipes. 

So here is the recipe...with some changes. I tend to like stronger flavors so I added a few other ingredients to make it to my liking. I try to avoid using canned beans but I resorted to canned for this recipe - Emily suggested a canned 3-bean blend, so I wanted to try it that way, but I didn't have time to make 3 different kinds of beans from scratch when I wanted to make this dip. I actually took a break from beans for the past couple of weeks - the spring-fever weather we had recently made me crave lighter salads. After that I then had an intense craving for beans (tell me I'm not the only one who experiences this???) recently - and I heard somewhere that when the body craves something, it's an evolutionary response to a body's actual need for specific nutrients. I like that :) Hmm, now that I think about it, I believe I heard that from House. Oh well, they must do research to produce a medical TV show, right? ;-)

bean dip with multigrain pita chips

Bean Dip (adapted from Daily Garnish)

  • 2 cans of beans (I used a 3-bean mix of black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans, as suggested in the original recipe, but you could certainly use all black beans or pinto beans, etc), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (I bought in bulk at Whole Foods)
  • 1/4 cup water (I used less than the original recipe, for 2 batches)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (the original recipe called for lime juice, but I only had lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus maybe a pinch more
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (either in the powder form or ground from whole cumin seeds)
  • freshly ground black pepper

One of my good friends is from Turkey and she taught me a trick to take hummus to a whole other level - she toasts spices like cumin and paprika for a few minutes in a small skillet, then adds olive oil and lets it cook on low heat until the olive oil is warm and infused with flavor. Then she drizzles this mixture on top of the hummus (thanks for the tip, E.B.!). I used the same technique with the cumin and olive oil. The toasting intensifies the flavor of the spice, and is a great technique for this dip if you want a little more intense flavor.

Then add everything, including the flavored olive oil, to a food processor and process until smooth... then dip away!

You can certainly just use half the quantities as in Emily's original recipe. I doubled her quantities because I'd rather make a bigger batch when I dirty up my food processor. Plus, beans are our main protein source and we eat a lot of it in our household. I wouldn't be surprised if a bean was suddenly sprouting into a beanstalk in my stomach.

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Dianne Khu said...

Mia, I feel a little dumb, but have you converted to a vegetarian?! :-)

Mia said...

No worries - we haven't seen each other in AGES! Yup - for about 6 or 7 years now, maybe? Except for a "lapse" in February maybe when I ate fish - not sure what that was about as I had not craved fish in so long. But back to vegetarian now. :)

Dianne Khu said...

Oh myy gulayyy (no pun intended hehe)! Good for you. I tried being one for one week, I almost died hehe!

Mia said...

Dianne - LOVE the pun (intended or not) and oh my goodness you just reminded me about that expression from back home! Hahaha

I'm sorry you didn't have a great vegetarian experience... if you come visit me, we can cook some vegetarian meals together :) You won't miss meat, I promise! (ok I think I just raised the bar for myself by saying that... )

Seriously though, when my parents visit me I cook mostly vegetarian. Occasionally they'll eat fish but otherwise we eat veg. Unless my dad sneaks out to eat meat, haha! Not that I mind if they eat meat/seafood. (The rest of my family is still omni)

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