Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spicy red kidney bean dip with za’atar

I make bread all the time lately, at least twice a week, as I am in a serious sourdough kick, and one thing I like to have around in my fridge is all sorts of spreads and dips. Especially now that summer is here (yes, it seems that we skipped spring and went straight into summer here in the Netherlands) they make the perfect snack with freshly baked bread.

Exhibit number one, this dip. A red kidney bean dip that is following along the lines of hummus in the sense that it’s made with tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice but it also contains spices, because I’m a spice fiend. There’s cumin and two kinds of hot dried chilli pepper —pul biber (Aleppo pepper) and boukovo (Greek red chilli flakes)— that bring heat and a pungency that’s quite pleasant.

It’s a dip full of earthy and meaty flavors from the beans, with freshness from the dill, it is vibrant from the garlic and spices, rich from the tahini and extra virgin olive oil, and aromatic from the za’atar. Definitely worth dipping your best bread into it, or your favorite pita, rusks or crudités.

Spicy red kidney bean dip with za’atar

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb (with oregano, thyme, marjoram, depending on where it is made) and sumac blend with sesame seeds and it’s very aromatic and flavorful.

I always cook my own beans from dried, we Greeks do that, but you can certainly use canned and rinsed beans as well.

Yield: 4-6

250 g boiled red kidney beans (from a can or homemade)
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2½ Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp salt
1 Tbsp tahini, stirred well before measured
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
¼ tsp boukovo (or dried red chilli flakes)

to serve
A handful fresh dill, finely chopped
Pul biber
Extra virgin olive oil

Special equipment: colander, food processor

Whenever I boil beans for dips, I make a big batch and freeze about half for later use. For this recipe, I used 500 g dried red kidney beans and used 250 g boiled ones, the rest I put in freezer bags for other dips or salads.

If you’re going to boil your own beans from dried, the night before, place them in a very large bowl and add 2 liters of cold tap water. Soak them for 14-16 hours.

The next day, rinse the beans under cold, running water, place them in a large pot and add 2 liters of cold tap water. Cover the pan and bring water to the boil over high heat. You will notice that once the water comes to a rolling boil, foam will rise up to the surface of the water. Remove the foam with a large spoon and drain the beans in a colander.
Return the beans in the pot and add 2 liters of boiling water. Bring them to the boil over high heat, then turn heat down to medium-low and cook the beans until they soften. This may take anywhere from 1½ to 2½ hours depending on the beans. Not all beans are the same so you need to keep an eye on them. You want them to be tender but not mushy. Start checking them after one hour. One way to check doneness, apart from simply tasting one of the beans, is by pressing one with your finger; if it breaks easily, it is ready, if not, you need to cook them for a while longer. The beans must not be tough otherwise your dip will be grainy.

Drain them in a colander. You should use the beans to make the dip when they are completely cool and make sure to keep some of the cooking liquid to add to the dip in case it is too thick.

If you are using canned/bottle beans, rinse them before using them in the dip, but make sure to reserve the liquid from the can/bottle in case you need to loosen the dip.

Place all the ingredients for the dip in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until they start to blend. Then process on high speed until you have a smooth puree (though it will never be completely smooth because the beans still have their skin). If the dip is too thick you may add some of the bean cooking liquid.
Give it a taste and add more salt if needed. Also, you may add more olive oil or lemon, depending on your liking.

Serve in a large bowl and top with the fresh dill, pul biber, za’atar and a drizzle of olive oil, with pita bread or any other kind of bread and vegetables to dip.

You can serve it right away or keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for 1 week. The flavor is better the next day you make it.


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