Taste Pure and Simple

by Michel Nischan with Mary Goodbody

photography by Minh + Wass

Published by Chronicle Books

175 pages, 2003



White Bean Dip

From Taste Pure and Simple by Michel Nischan


Once you decide not to serve butter, as we did when I opened Heartbeat, you face the challenge of how to serve bread without it. Oil is an obvious alternative, but bread soaks up so much oil, I didn't think it would be fair to customers watching their fat intake. When I started thinking about some sort of dip, I remembered dunking chunks of crusty country bread in a wonderful white bean soup. I modified the recipe so that became more of a dip than a soup, with an intensified garlicky flavor tamed by the fresh rosemary. It adds some carbs to the meal, but it also substitutes for the lushness of butter and oil. If 8 cups is too much for your purposes, halve the recipe. But remember -- it keeps well!

2 cups (1 pound) dried white beans

8 garlic cloves, peeled

2 bunches rosemary

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chunks of crusty bread for serving


Makes about 8 cups


Rinse and pick over the beans. Soak in water to cover by 2 inches for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours. Drain.

Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a full simmer over medium-high heat and then immediately drain. Return the garlic cloves to the saucepan. Cover with more cold water and repeat. Do this a total of 5 times. Set the blanched garlic cloves aside.

Put the beans in a stockpot or large saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a rapid simmer. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender but not mushy.

Drain the beans in a colander and set over a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid. Transfer the beans to a blender or a food processor. Add the garlic clovers and puree until smooth, adding as much of the cooking liquid as necessary for a thick, spreadable or dippable consistency.

Gently stir the bean dip with the rosemary bunches for about 3 minutes, or until the dip is fragrant with the scent of rosemary. Discard the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with the bread. Or, transfer to a lidded container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Bring to a simmer over low heat before serving.