I have been making a gradual move to a more plant focused way of eating and am always looking for inspiration to level up my whole food journey. My challenge is learning new ways to prepare and present plant-based dishes in new and exciting ways to keep me coming back for more.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Flavor has been my inspiration. His minimalist approach to using only a handful of fresh, whole ingredients, followed by his process of layering and infusing flavors, requires more time, but is not difficult. The result here is where the angels sing.
The proof is in this incredible white bean mash. The garlic infused olive oil with rosemary, thyme, dill, and lemon are the rock star ingredients. These ingredients are then transformed into three layers (the bean mash, the aioli, and finally some of the cooked beans with lemon, garlic oil and dill).
This dish is versatile. You can serve it up as an appetizer, side dish or main entrée. If they are leftovers pack it up with veggie sticks or bread for lunch.
White Bean Mash With Garlic Aïoli
Recipe from Ottolenghi Flavor Cookbook
1 3/4 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water and 1 tsp baking soda
1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 rosemary sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
1 green Chile, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 anchovy filets in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped (optional)
6 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh dill. chopped
1/2 tsp Aleppo Chile flakes or other hot pepper flakes
Drain the soaked beans and put them into a large saucepan with onion. Add enough water to cover by about 1 1/2 inches. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium and cook for about 50 minutes, or until the beans are completely soft and starting to break up; you may need to top with more water as you go. Drain well.
While the beans are cooking, put the garlic, rosemary, thyme, green chile, and olive oil into a small saucepan, for which you have a lid. Place on medium-low heat, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until garlic has been softened and is just beginning to color. Leaving the lid on, remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes; the garlic will continue to cook in the heat of the oil. Strain through a sieve set over a bowl, reserving the oil. Pick out the garlic, herbs, and chile and set aside.
Put the cooked garlic into a food processor along with a mounded 1/2 cup of the cooked beans, the mustard, anchovies, 2 tbsp of the lemon juice, 5 tbsp of the garlic oil, 1 tbsp water, 1/8 tsp salt, and a good grind of pepper. Blitz to mayonnaise- like consistency and set the aïoli aside.
Combine a scant 1 cup of the cooked beans in a small bowl with 4 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 3 tbsp garlic oil, the dill, 1/4 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Set aside.
Put the remaining cooked beans and onion into the food processor along with the remaining 7 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 3 tbsp garlic oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Blitz to a thick smooth mash, about 1 minute, then transfer to a shallow bowl and spread out to create a shallow well in the center. Fill the well with the aïoli, then top with dressed beans. Finish with chile flakes, reserved green chile, rosemary, and thyme. Serve at once.