White Bean Pure

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 10 minutes with cooked beans

One of the most useful bean preparations there is, this pure can serve as a side dish, sauce, spread, or dip (and is great as an appetizer served with bread or pita chips and carrot and celery sticks or other sliced vegetables). Furthermore, it can be whipped up in no time. Serve it as a spread for Crostini or as a side dish with Seitan and Mushroom Loaf or Fast Nut Burgers; or pool it under Grilled Mushrooms. For a smoother, richer, more luxurious pure, add 1/4 cup or so cream to the main recipe or to any of the first three variations.

Make the pure vegan by using oil instead of butter. Other beans you can use: nearly any cannellini, Great Northern, dried favas and limas, chickpeas, pinto, kidney, appaloosa, anastazi, soybeans, or black beans, and lightly cooked fresh beans like fava, edamame, or lima.

3 cups cooked or canned navy or other white beans, drained but still moist, liquid reserved

About 1 cup bean-cooking liquid, vegetable stock (see Roasted Vegetable Stock), or water

3 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley leaves for garnish

Pure the beans by putting them through a food mill or using a blender; add as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not watery pure.

Put in a microwave-safe dish or medium nonstick saucepan along with the butter or olive oil. Heat gently until the butter melts, or the oil is hot, and the beans are hot; season with salt and pepper.

Garnish and serve hot as a side dish or warm or at room temperature as a dip or spread.

Variations

Bean Pure with Roasted Garlic. Many kinds of beans work beautifully with roasted garlic; any white bean, favas, chickpeas, pinto, black-eyed peas, and soybeans are all great: Add 15 to 20 cloves of Roasted Garlic and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves in Step 1.

Garlicky Pured Beans. A little lemon zest is good here too: Add 1 teaspoon or more minced garlic and a few fresh rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried in Step 1.

Cheesy Pured Beans. Stir in 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, pecorino, fontina, or Gouda in Step 2. Heat until the cheese is melted, stirring frequently, then proceed with the recipe.

White Bean and Celery Root or Parsnip Pure. Even more substantial and a great substitute for mashed potatoes: Add 1 cup cooked chopped celery root (see Celery Root) or parsnips (see Parsnips) in Step 1.

Chickpea and Eggplant Pure. A dollop of tahini adds a rich, nutty flavor: Grill, or roast in a 500В°F oven, 1 medium eggplant, pierced with a skewer or small knife several times, until soft and blackened, 20 to 30 minutes. Let it cool, then split the skin, scoop out the flesh, and add it to the food mill or blender with the beans in Step 1. Add about 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste.

Lima Bean Pure with Fennel and Orange Juice. A terrific spread for Bruschetta or Crostini: Add 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced, and 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice. Cook the fennel in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until very soft; add the orange juice, and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Add the fennel mixture to the blender with the beans in Step 1.

Black Bean Pure with Chipotles. Spicy and smoky; perfect with Naked Tamales or Chiles Rellenos: Add 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce in Step 1. Proceed with the recipe and garnish with cilantro.