White Bean Dip With Feta And Black Olives
For impromptu parties or gadabout nights, there are a few dips that I keep in regular rotation. One of them is a creamy feta and olive dip/spread, with a base of cream cheese. It’s good. Like, DANG good. It’s the kind of dip where you turn around and it’s just gone. You know, the kind of dip where one girl asked, after her boyfriend ate half the bowl, if I was hitting on him. No, um, it seems that he just enjoys feta and olives. So, uh, yeah.
Now, however, in the interest of the fact that I was (enthusiastically) asked by a very good friend if I wanted her to submit my name to Bulging Brides before our wedding (the answer: NO, but thank you. I think…..), I have decided to…uh….lighten things up just a bit.
Instead of cream cheese, this iteration of a good thing keeps all the salty, feta and olive flavor of the previous dip, but gets packed full of fiber and non-dairy protein. Sure, there’s still a cup of feta in there, so I guess it’s not ENTIRELY non-dairy protein. And okay, together Mike and I ate 3/4 of it by ourselves, in one sitting while watching The IT Crowd, so I suppose that the “moderate portion sizes” thing went off the rails too. But at least the intention to be virtuous was there, right? Right?! Sigh. You can’t win for trying around here.
White Bean Dip with Feta and Black Olives
Makes appx 1 3/4 cups
- 1 can (19 0z) navy beans*
- 1 large clove garlic
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil**
- 1 smallish lemon
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 cup oil packed sundried black olives ***
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
* Navy beans are often labelled as white beans, fagioli or Boston beans. If you can’t find navy beans, there’s no need to worry – the world of legumes is FULL of fabulous substitutes! You could use cannellini beans, flageolets, Great Northern, or even white kidney beans. Chickpeas pack a bigger flavor punch than creamy white beans, but you could use them (or even lima) in a pinch.
** With so few ingredients, each one really has to shine. Choose a fruity, full bodied and rich tasting extra virgin olive oil.
*** Oil packed sundried black olives are much saltier and more flavorful than many of their kalamata counterparts. The texture is slightly withered and much drier compared to the briny juices of kalamata, and some people find them to be a bit of an acquired taste. Either one will do, however if you’re using kalamata olives you may wish to increase the amount to 2/3 cup, unpitted.
Drain and rinse your can of beans. Put the beans into a food processor and add the garlic clove (which I always roughly chop first, because I’m a bit of a control freak that way) and olive oil. Crumble in the feta cheese and squeeze in the juice of one whole smallish lemon, or the better part of a large one.
Scrape the flavorful needles off your rosemary and add them to the beans, discarding the stalk. There should be about 3/4 tsp of fresh rosemary. Season the mixture generously with a good grinding of fresh black pepper.
Whiz the mixture up in your food processor until it is smooth and no chunks of bean or feta remain.
Now then, smash or split the olives and discard the pits. You might be entirely disinterested to hear that when I was about 11 years old I hoarded all of my olive pits one summer. Really, I collected them in my pockets (not a good idea) and threw them into my parents’ garden every night, sure that at least one of them would grow an olive tree that I could claim as my very own. It never happened, and I was sorely disappointed. Almost as disappointed as when I caught a ‘pet clam’ when we were camping, and I planted it in a secluded area of beach at our cottage. I checked on that mollusk three times that first day, just to make sure it was happy in it’s new home. The next day, of course, it was gone. I dug and dug, but that gorgeous midnight-hued iridescent shell was just nowhere to be found (no doubt due to a smug and satiated raccoon). I sniffled and whimpered for a good three days, and I still feel sorry for myself every now and then. I had a rabbit named Teepee that ran away too. Sad time, childhood was. The general “they” say that it’s better to learn life’s lessons early on, but sometimes I wonder. I don’t really remember what I was getting at here, but it definitely had nothing to do with abandonment issues.
So………..yeah. Add the olives to the mix and pulse the mixture 5 or 6 times until the olive is coarsely chopped but not blended.
Drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on the top, and you’re laughing. Although I’m not. I’m still thinking about runaway bunny rabbits and the vagaries of existence, but that’s nothing a little bit of dip won’t help.
…or a few chugs of cheap red wine, which just HAPPENS to go quite nicely with olives and feta. That helps too.
This dip has it all. It’s salty, creamy, textured, herbal, tart and compelling. This is the kind of dip where I clean out the inside of the food processor first with a spoon, then with my finger. Possibly my tongue. Did I mention that we ate most of it ourselves? In one night? Shameful, but delicious. Oh, so delicious.