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.


  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    I too prefer the wrinkly, briny and tastier sun-dried olives. I love all olives but these ones more!

    I have a can of white beans, this sounds like a good reason to open it but I think I’ll take the pits out of my olives…’unpitted’ is bad for the dental work! 😉

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Ha – I certainly HOPE you would take the pits out of your olives, Peter! Broken teeth are never a pleasant surprise. In terms of the beans, who needs a reason to open up a can of legumes? Not us, I’ll say that much! I think they open themselves up while we’re at work. We get home and it’s like, “huh, look, a can of beans is open. I…I guess we’re doing something bean related for dinner tonight….”

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    I can see the appeal of this dip made with cream cheese. But, white beans have a silkiness all their own.

    Bet this would be glorious smeared in a wrap with some tantalizing spring veg.

  • Stephanie

    I hope you make that “good friend” a bridesmaid and dress her in orange ruffles. With a bustle.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Awwww, man! How did you sneak a peek at the bridesmaid dresses already? I guess now I should go to my second option: shiny satin sea-foam with puffed sleeves and a dropped waist…..big bow optional.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com Kevin

    That is one tasty sounding bean dip! I really like those sun-dried olives as well.

  • Pam Miller

    I am trying this today! Love legumes, feta and olives. This can’t miss.

  • Liz

    A FRIEND told you to apply for bulging brides? My goodness, with friends like that! I am offended for you; that show is loathsome in its misogyny and fat-phobia.

    The dip, however, looks delicious!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Aw, Liz I promise that she really DID mean it in the nicest possible way!! I’m just being peevish.

      Thank you, though!!!!!

  • http://www.imafoodblog.com sara

    This sounds great. I could eat that whole thing for dinner if I allowed myself.

  • http://morganlily2004.blogspot.com Katie

    I made this with just regular Kalamata olives and thought it was very good. (I’m not really an olive fan normally.) But my family didn’t. Maybe I put in too much rosemary? They kept saying things like “The Rosemary Dip is…interesting.” Which was fine with me because I got to eat it all! But the rosemary isn’t supposed to be the main flavor, is it?

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Katie – we’re so glad that you tried this dip….but what a shame that it wasn’t so popular! No, the rosemary is not supposed to be the main flavor although it should be present and complementary. Did you use fresh rosemary or dried? Rosemary is one of the more pungent herbs and it can really over power. Do you think that it would be better if the rosemary was reduced to 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh? I’m always looking for recipe improvements!!

  • http://www.megfishphotography.com Meg Fish


  • http://www.jamelafamela.wordpress.com jamie @ jamelafamela

    This dip looks delicious! Gonna have to try this very soon!

  • Kayleigh

    I’m wondering if you can suggest an alternative herb to rosemary? I’m not a huge fan of rosemary, and keep finding recipes with it in it. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Hi Kayleigh,
      Oregano would be a really nice savory complement to the Mediterranean flavors of feta and salty black olive. If you use fresh oregano you would want about 1 heaping tablespoon, or about 1-2 tsp of dried, to taste. You need a fair bit to be able to detect it because the sundried olives have such a strong flavor. On the other hand, if you’re using a kalamata olive, which is milder and a bit sweeter, you could scale back a touch.


  • Anna

    I made this yesterday, and my boyfriend and I loved it. It’s seriously all gone. However, we both thought that the combination of feta cheese and olives made it a bit salty for us. Next time, we’re going to either leave the olives out and use the 1 cup of feta (we tried it before I added the olives and it was absolutely delicious that way as well!!), or leave the olives but use a 1/2 cup of feta cheese instead.

    Either way, great recipe. Thank you.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Anna – I agree that it is definitely salty (I’m a bit of a salt fiend, for better or worse) and I think both of your ideas to adapt this to your taste are great. Another option is to change the variety of feta that you use. Although the EU has limited use of the term feta to only a specific type of cheese made in Greece, in Canada we….well, tend to ignore that ruling. That said, from my local grocery store, the deli section usually has a variety of fresh feta with different texture, tang, and degree of saltiness. I find that the softer and creamier feta cheese (often labeled ‘French’ or ‘Macedonian’) tend to be less salty.

      Thank you again for your kind comment, and I’m so glad that you like this recipe enough to adapt it to your tastes!!!

  • abby fuller

    Just made it, using oregano and kalamata olives from a jar (pitted) – excellent and addictive. Would be just as good without the olives – I too tasted it at that stage and almost like it better. Or maybe next time I’ll just add less olives…

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Abby, thank you for the comment! We’re so glad that you enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of my favorites too. I like the idea of oregano and olives, that sounds delicious!

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