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
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!