White Bean Mash with Garlic Aioli

I’ve never met a bean I didn’t like, except for Anasazi. They were odd. But overall, I love legumes. And white beans? I could eat them straight from the can, although I always drain them first. They are flavorful and healthy. What’s a better combination?!

This recipe of course caught my attention because the coordinating photo in the book is pretty. I’ve mashed white beans myself, seasoned with thyme, and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes. So many options, really.

Not surprisingly, this is an Ottolenghi recipe, from the cookbook Flavor, published in 2020.

The recipe utilizes garlic, thyme, rosemary, a chile pepper, anchovies, lemon juice, dill, and Aleppo chile flakes. Fabulous. I thought.

Ottolenghi points out that not only is this dish a great side, it could also be offered as part of a spread with bread and other dips.

White Bean Mash with Garlic Aioli

1 3/4 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water and 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 rosemary sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
1 green chile, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, chopped
Juice from 4 lemons, about 6 tablespoons
Salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes

Drain the soaked beans and put them into a large saucepan with the onion. Add enough water to cover by about 1 1/2 inches. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium and cook for about 50 minutes, or until the beans are completely soft and starting to break up; you may need to top with more water as you go. Drain well.

While the beans are cooking, put the garlic, rosemary, thyme, green chile, and olive oil into a small saucepan, for which you have a lid. Place on medium-low heat, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the garlic has softened and is just beginning to color. Leaving the lid on, remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes; the garlic will continue to cook in the heat of the oil. Strain through a sieve set over a bowl, reserving the oil. Pick out the garlic, herbs, and chile and set aside.

Put the cooked garlic in a food processor along with a mounded 1/2 cup of the cooked beans, the mustard, anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 5 tablespoons of the garlic oil, 1 tablespoon of water, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a good grind of pepper. Blitz to a mayonnaise texture, then remove to a small bowl and set aside.

Combine a scant 1 cup of the cooked beans in a small bowl with 4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the garlic oil, the dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a good grind of pepper. Set aside.

Put the remaining cooked beans and onion in the food processor along with the remaining 7 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons garlic oil, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and a good grind of pepper. Blitz to a thick, smooth mash, about 1 minute, then transfer to a shallow bowl and spread out to create a shallow well in the center. Fill the well with the aioli, then top with the dressed beans.

Finish with the chile flakes, reserved green chile, rosemary, and thyme.

Serve at once.

You will be surprised to know that I ended up not liking this bean mash at all. It just didn’t work. There was too much lemon and dill for my tastes. Plus, I’m not fond of burnt herbs and garlic. The garlic oil was bitter. I followed the recipe, and there was no way the herbs, garlic, and chile pepper would not have burned given these directions.

I’ll go back to creating my own mashed beans!

By Published On: January 9th, 202356 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

56 Comments

  1. cookingwithauntjuju.com January 9, 2023 at 6:20 AM - Reply

    I love this cookbook and Yotam and Ixta’s approach to plant-based foods. I recently received this as a gift and have been working on a post – so many to choose from! Beans are a favorite too and I’m sure this mash is delicious :)

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 7:36 AM - Reply

      Well, I loved the concept of the final dish, but I didn’t like the way it was prepared, and I followed the directions. I would cook it differently if I made it again.

  2. angiesrecipes January 9, 2023 at 6:58 AM - Reply

    That looks droolworthy! Ottolenghi’s recipes usually don’t disappoint.

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      Well the ingredients were all fabulous, I just didn’t like the results of the cooking process.

  3. David @ Spiced January 9, 2023 at 6:58 AM - Reply

    Yikes – sorry this one didn’t work, Mimi. It sounds delicious based on the description, but perhaps it just didn’t come together. It happens. Laura and I had a white bean mash in Italy on our honeymoon, and we’ve been dreaming about that one ever since!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 7:38 AM - Reply

      That’s funny. Years ago I did my own bean mash and thought I’d invented it! Didn’t realize it was already a thing, but anything anybody does has probably already been done by the Italians!

  4. Bernadette January 9, 2023 at 6:58 AM - Reply

    Thanks Mimi for this honest review. As I was reading the directions, I started to realize I would never make it because it is just too fussy. I like the idea of mashed white beans replacing potatoes though. Maybe your next post could be how you do it.

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 7:39 AM - Reply

      I liked all of the ingredients, it’s just like why I don’t brown garlic. I don’t like the flavor. I like it just warmed in olive oil and then I move on. I would have all been wonderful without the burnt parts!

  5. Charlie DeSando January 9, 2023 at 7:57 AM - Reply

    Looks fantastic. Anything with garlic I’m all over

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:34 PM - Reply

      I agree, but not burnt garlic!

  6. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 9, 2023 at 9:34 AM - Reply

    In general, I do love the cookbook, but I totally agree with you about the garlic and herbs!
    Love beans, grew up on them, never tire of them! Making my mom’s baked beans later this week, and I actually slip some anchovies in mine just to change it up a bit!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:36 PM - Reply

      Very interesting! Anchovies really are versatile. I wish more people weren’t scared of using them.

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 10, 2023 at 7:47 AM

        Too many places don’t use them right. I don’t want a Caesar salad with 15 whole canned anchovies plopped on top, nor a pizza! But they add so much to many dishes, even the simplest of veggies.

      • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:51 PM

        Exactly. How were they in your baked beans?

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 11, 2023 at 4:06 PM

        Absolutely delicious! I’ll post the recipe soon, and I will link back to your experiment!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:48 PM - Reply

      Ooh – go lot at the blog angsarap.net!

  7. Hannah Kaminsky January 9, 2023 at 10:09 AM - Reply

    I’m right there with you, I love my beans! This mash looks positively luscious, really elevating the humble legume to the luxurious status it deserves. I’m bummed to hear the flavor didn’t live up to the promise though. I’m still tempted to use this as inspiration for a starting point, it has so much potential.

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:32 PM - Reply

      I agree. This won’t be the last time I mash beans! I just didn’t like how this ended up being.

  8. David Scott Allen January 9, 2023 at 10:15 AM - Reply

    I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi, as you already know. I made this beam mash, with modifications, and it’s really, really good! One thing I’ve never understood though, why he needed to call it “garlic aïoli“ because aïoli in itself means garlic and oil. And, in addition to Anasazi, I have another being that you might not like. Tepary beans — I find them very hard to cook with.

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:31 PM - Reply

      Tepary beans – never heard of them! But I believe you, so I won’t bother trying to find them. You made this dish? I wonder what we did differently, or perhaps your modifications prevented the issues I had with this recipe!

  9. terrie gura January 9, 2023 at 11:53 AM - Reply

    Holy moly, 25-30 minutes at medium-low heat is absurd. I can’t imagine what kind of stove that was tested on, but at my house, that would set off smoke alarms. Your experience with this one underscores all the reasons I view cookbooks as inspiration rather than instruction. I hope you share your own mashed bean recipe soon!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:26 PM - Reply

      I agree. And this was an Ottolenghi recipe! That’s why I felt I had to add that I’d followed the instructions. Which I usually don’t! Not completely, anyway!

  10. terrie gura January 9, 2023 at 11:55 AM - Reply

    In my exasperation over the garlic and herb poaching faux pas, I forgot to mention that your photos, as always, were flawless. Haha!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:26 PM - Reply

      Aww, thank you!. I keep trying, but I still lack the patience, and desire, to be honest. It’s not my thing.

  11. Angeline M January 9, 2023 at 12:14 PM - Reply

    Loved the idea, but way too fussy to cook for me. Sorry it didn’t work out after all that. As others have mentioned, I’d love to see your version of mashed beans.

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:24 PM - Reply

      Thank you. Maybe I should have done a blog post! It’s just such a basic way of presenting beans. Although potato mash is a very basic way of presenting potatoes!

  12. Debra January 9, 2023 at 12:27 PM - Reply

    I feel as you do about beans, Mimi. I always have a variety on-hand and I’m also always in the mood for any recipe relying on beans! Now that I’ve said that, I’ll have to admit I don’t think I’ve ever really done a white bean mash, but I sure will now! Maybe I’ll try your recipe but go a little lighter on the additions to the beans. I can see this would be an exceptional “according to taste” recipe!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:23 PM - Reply

      Yes, I agree. You can really do anything to the beans, or add anything. Just don’t burn the garlic!

  13. Mary January 9, 2023 at 1:13 PM - Reply

    What a lot of faff for a pot of beans!!

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 2:22 PM - Reply

      I just wish the faff would have tasted better!

      • Ben | Havocinthekitchen January 16, 2023 at 5:51 PM

        It looks terrific, and indeed it sounds quite tasty to my liking (Even the burnt garlic and herb part – I often enjoy its pleasant bitterness.) The result might not have been perfect, but I see that you can easily make this recipe work by tweaking few things!

  14. Ronit January 9, 2023 at 6:09 PM - Reply

    Sorry to hear this was a disappointing dish, and I can definitely see your point.
    I’m not that much into legumes, but would definitely give it a try, as the ingredients combination sounded promising, though I was wondering if the dill amount is not too much. The cooking time for the garlic doesn’t make any sense, and burnt garlic is simply awful! A shame. Thanks for the warning! :)

    • Chef Mimi January 9, 2023 at 7:17 PM - Reply

      I’m glad you agree. I know some people purposely brown or roast garlic, but I don’t. I like it sitting in warm olive oil just not even a minute, then moving on. Dill is probably my least favorite herb, and I used less than the recipe asked for, if I remember correctly. But this was a sad recipe, for what should have been really stunning.

  15. Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 9, 2023 at 9:53 PM - Reply

    I’ve been making bean mash / dip for years and did not like Ottolenghi’s recipe either! I don’t see how bitter garlic or burnt herbs add any good flavour.

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:50 PM - Reply

      I’m so relieved! I thought I might get some negative feedback since Ottolenghi is King!

  16. Pauline January 10, 2023 at 12:12 AM - Reply

    You had me making this until your final comment Mimi. His recipes are usually great but not always, however I love to try them. This would be a nice change to hummus, so I’ll dwell on it at a later date. I’m still working my way through Simple, ha, ha.

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:51 PM - Reply

      I have never honestly made an Ottolenghi recipe that wasn’t fabulous. This was disappointing.

  17. Jean January 10, 2023 at 9:51 AM - Reply

    I love white beans, too, and mashed, yes. Sorry this recipe didn’t work out but I trust your evaluation. I’m always drawn to Ottolenghi books–so photogenic–but I’ve been underwhelmed by few recipes I’ve tried. I still have quite a lot bookmarked–maybe one of these days I’ll come across one I love.

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:53 PM - Reply

      Interesting. I’ve only made his recipes maybe a dozen times, but they’ve all been wonderful. Sometimes his ingredients get a bit tedious, however. Like, 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin. Seriously? Not 1 or 1 1/2?!

  18. luna January 10, 2023 at 11:43 AM - Reply

    une recette qui me plaît beaucoup !!
    j’adore les haricots !! merci !!
    bonne soirée

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 4:00 PM - Reply

      Je t’en prie!

  19. Frank Fariello January 10, 2023 at 1:11 PM - Reply

    Good of you to share even those dishes you didn’t care for. Funny because as I perused the recipe and photos I thought “This is my kind of dish”. Until I noticed the burnt garlic. No thanks! Ditto for the juice of *four* lemons. But I wonder if you just lightly browned the garlic or used, say, one lemon? Otherwise, it really does look/sound nice.

    TIL about Anasazi beans. Never heard of them—now I’m curious to try them…

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:55 PM - Reply

      This would certainly be a better dish without the burnt bits! But, so much food, so many more recipes, so little time!

  20. Ann Coleman January 10, 2023 at 8:15 PM - Reply

    As a child, I hated beans! But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate them. And even if I didn’t, what isn’t good when you add garlic?????

    • Chef Mimi January 11, 2023 at 1:58 PM - Reply

      Well, just not burnt garlic. And burnt herbs. I can’t remember if there was a corresponding photo with the recipe but I did follow the directions and didn’t like the results!

  21. Raymund January 12, 2023 at 4:55 PM - Reply

    Looks really nice and creamy! I would love to dip any flat bread on it anytime

  22. Velva Knapp January 12, 2023 at 6:06 PM - Reply

    Isn’t this a fantastic recipe? I love the simplicity of ingredients but, the layers of flavors. This is one of my favorite Ottolenghi recipes. His cookbook Flavor, I pretty much read the book from end to end.

    Happy New Year!

    Velva

  23. Sherry M January 13, 2023 at 10:56 PM - Reply

    I think i’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read an Ottolenghi book or made one of his recipes. I must do that one day! I often find chefs’ cookbooks way too fussy for me – too many ingredients and they fussy up the method. I do love a bean mash tho :=)

    • Chef Mimi January 14, 2023 at 3:44 PM - Reply

      If that’s the case, then you might not like his recipes. They’re obviously tested, and when I read certain amounts, like 1/3 cup minus 1 teaspoon, I start grimacing. Who came up with that??!!! But his Middle Eastern dishes are fabulous.

  24. valentina January 14, 2023 at 5:21 PM - Reply

    White beans are my favorite too. I especially love Cannellini. The recipe here sounds amazing and it really is so pretty. You’re right healthy+flavorful is the perfect combo. :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi January 14, 2023 at 6:23 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Valentina. I just didn’t like some of the steps in the recipe.

  25. Jeff the Chef January 15, 2023 at 12:45 PM - Reply

    This looks great! I love beans, too.

    • Chef Mimi January 16, 2023 at 6:41 PM - Reply

      I used to be so stubborn that I’d only cook beans from scratch. But we were also poor, and they’re cheap! I still cook some from dried beans, but I welcome good canned beans any day!

  26. Ben | Havocinthekitchen January 16, 2023 at 5:52 PM - Reply

    It looks terrific, and indeed it sounds quite tasty to my liking (Even the burnt garlic and herb part – I often enjoy its pleasant bitterness.) The result might not have been perfect, but I see that you can easily make this recipe work by tweaking few things!

    • Chef Mimi January 16, 2023 at 6:38 PM - Reply

      Exactly. I am not holding this recipe against bean mash!

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