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Recipe #296: Italian-Style Olive & Pinto Bean Dip

Posted Nov 02 2011 7:20pm
As promised, here's the first dish in the " Resourceful Recipes" series I'd introduced just a few days ago. As you can probably tell from the below recipe, I'm out to prove that eating on a budget doesn't have to be plain or boring. So get ready to kick your inner curmudgeon to the curb. :)

True to form, the ingredients in this recipe are inexpensive and yet, still packed with nutritional value. In fact, this dish can be made for only a few dollars: For example, the can of pinto beans Erik brought home from the grocery store cost only 89¢. The 2 oz. can of anchovies cost $1.99, but only 2 anchovy fillets are called for in this particular recipe. The fresh herbs are about $1-2 each, depending on the size of the package you buy. (Or, if you are already growing them indoors, they are free. :-D) Plus, a lot of the ingredients can be used for multiple recipes, so their cost, per recipe, is actually even less than it might seem at first glance. You can really get a lot of mileage out of these ingredients. So, as you buy them, you can plan to make other recipes which call for those very same ingredients, so that nothing goes to waste. This way, any opened cans &/or fresh produce can be used while they're still good.

So, in order to help you make use of any leftover ingredients you might have after making the below recipe, I'll be posting some more recipes using fresh herbs, anchovies, and some of the other, below-listed ingredients. :)

The nice thing about this dish is that there's no cooking required. So aside from a small amount of kitchen prep (i.e., minimal chopping, soaking two ingredients, etc.), all you have to do is just toss everything into a food processor, pulse it for a few seconds, and you're done. Can't get much easier than that, eh?


Italian-Style Olive & Pinto Bean Dip

Ingredients:
15.5 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 small anchovy fillets (from a tin, packed in oil) (about 2 tsp.), drained and rinsed (or use 2 tsp. anchovy paste)*
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) freshly squeezed lemon juice (for soaking anchovies), plus more to taste
1/4 c. whole green or black, brine-cured (i.e., Kalamata or Greek) olives, pitted and halved (about 8-10 medium-sized olives)
1/4 c. red onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 1 large clove)
1/2 Tbsp. capers, soaked in 2 Tbsp. water for 10 minutes, then drained, and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped and densely packed
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) fresh basil, minced, roughly chopped and densely packed
1/2 Tbsp. fresh marjoram leaves, densely packed
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, densely packed
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions: In a small bowl, soak anchovies in 2 Tbsp. lemon juice for 10-15 minutes. Do not drain. Place the bowl of anchovies and lemon juice into a food processor, followed by the remaining ingredients, and pulse until just combined. Then taste and add more lemon juice if necessary, to suit your personal preferences. Transfer the mixture to a container, seal, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.  (Don't be too concerned about the olive oil congealing in the fridge, as it'll melt again once the dish is taken out and allowed to reach room temperature.) An hour before serving time, remove from refrigerator to let it reach room temperature. Serve with crostini. If desired, garnish with a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, &/or a few lightly toasted pignoli (i.e., pine) nuts. Refrigerate any leftovers in a sealed container. (Mixture will keep for about a week.)

Yield: Makes a little over 3 c.

Chef's Notes: Selecting and preparing canned anchovies: Choose high-quality, salt-cured ones that have been packed in olive oil, preferably the Sicilian kind, if available. Please note that, in this particular recipe, the anchovies are soaked in lemon juice, a known seafood "cleanser," in order to reduce their "fishiness." The acid in the lemon juice will "cold cook" the fish and kill off any remaining volatile amines.

With the olives, capers, anchovies, and Dijon mustard, this dip clearly doesn't require any additional salt. In fact, since it's so salty, this is why it's usually served with bread and other mild accompaniments. ;) It's rather intense by itself, and so, it needs something else to buffer/offset its concentrated flavor.

*To make this recipe vegetarian or vegan, simply omit the anchovies. Be sure to add the lemon juice, even though you won't be soaking any anchovies in it.

Serving Suggestions: If you're looking for an easy but elegant appetizer to serve for an hors d'œuvres platter -- whether for cocktail hour, a dinner party, or other festive occasion -- this recipe will certainly fit the bill. For an elegant presentation, serve on crackers or toasted mini baguette rounds, spreading each cracker/round first with soft goat cheese (chèvre), followed by a dollop of dip, and top with a small sliver of roasted red pepper. Or, if you'd rather skip the bread products, serve on slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, or grilled eggplant or zucchini.

Alternatively, you can eat this dish for a light meal or as a mid-day snack. Serve on ciabatta, either open-faced or as a sandwich. For the latter, add lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, etc., or whatever else strikes your fancy.


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