Take a Dip
White Bean Brandade
One of the most common appetizers at any party are dips. It's interesting to think about how they've changed over the years. In the 1960's our moms would make a bowl of what was called "French Onion Dip" by simply mixing together a packet of dried onion soup mix and a tub of sour cream. In the '70s, we thought we were feasting on exotic food when we brought a tub of salsa and a bag of corn chips (this later evolved to include guacamole). Now it seems that we are in the midst of a hummus revolution. Every grocery store is well-stocked with a wide variety of this common Middle Eastern dip.
Some cultures have made dips commonplace for many years. Greeks serve taramasalata, which is simply whipped carp roe, oil and lemon juice. Other Europeans serve "brandade" as an appetizer. In its most common form, brandade is made from an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil, called Brandade de Morue in France, and Brandada de bacalao in Spain.
However, dealing with dried salt cod can be a bit of a pain. I recently came across an old recipe from the French Culinary Institute that uses white beans and anchovies as the main ingredients. The anchovies add just enough flavor to be a great substitute while the beans add the creamy texture. The FCI recipe simmers beans from scratch and adds milk for texture, but I've come up with a much simpler version using canned cannelloni. We made this appetizer for this year's Bastille Day Celebration. Serve it with some savory crackers or toasted slices of French bread. For this recipe I like the flavor and creaminess of Goya Cannellini (Alubias). To keep it more authentically French, use Château Virant olive oil from Olivier & Co (O&Co.). The grassiness and bite of the olive oil perfectly balances the dip.
White Bean Brandade
("Brandade d'Haricots Blanc")
2 15.5 oz. cans of Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 fillets - anchovies in olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Additional olive oil for serving
- In a small food processor, put one can of drained Cannellini beans.
- Add the anchovy fillets and lemon juice, pulse several times to begin mixing.
- Add the second can of beans and the olive oil.
- Purée until smooth. Put into a shallow bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil for serving.