A friend of mine gave me a lovely bag of cannellini beans for Christmas, one of many items in a gourmet gift basket, and I decided right after New Year’s to cook them up.
I did them in a rather basic way, with the common aromatics plus lots of parsley. No specific flavors happening – certainly nothing Mexican- or Southwestern-inspired.
But then I decided to process the cooked white beans into a mash for a prettier bean presentation. I was actually inspired by my own re-creation of a potato mash topped with salmon that I’d had in Edinborough, Scotland. I posted about it here. If you can mash potatoes, you can certainly mash cooked beans! It’s done all the time with black beans; it’s essentially what I do if I want refried black beans. There’s no frying involved, I simply use a food processor.
So why not mash white beans as well?
So here’s what I did with the cooked white beans. This would also work really well with canned beans, as long as they’re very well drained – I just wanted to use these wonderful cannellini beans from Italy.
1. Here are the cooked white beans. If I’d known I would end up “mashing” the beans, I wouldn’t have included the carrot dice; I would have preferred a whiter bean mash.
4. Scrape down the bowl of the food processor and process a little more with little pulses. You don’t want mushy baby food – there should still be some texture. This would also be a good time to taste the beans and make sure they’re well seasoned.
6. Slide the mash onto the plate, and remove the ring. Beautiful. But see how you can see the carrots? Mistake. Because the orangey color doesn’t contrast well enough to the smoked salmon. Just a personal color thing for me.
7. Decorate the mash with strips of smoked salmon, and include a little chopped parsley for color.
8. Then drizzle the concoction with a little good olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar. I also added freshly ground black pepper.
note: I should mention that the bean mash and the smoked salmon were at room temperature. The bean mash would also have been good with smoked salmon dice incorporated as well, but I don’t think it would have been as pretty.
verdict: Smashing. My lunch was way better than my husband’s!