Beans' goodness is spreading around

July 22, 1998|By Patsy Jamieson | Patsy Jamieson,Eating Well Magazine

Check out the trendiest restaurants these days and you'll see crocks of creamy bean purees where pats of butter once resided.

Replacing butter with low-fat bean spreads has become terribly chic, yet Mediterraneans have been making aromatic blends of beans and other legumes for centuries.

The most famous of these, hummus, hit it big in America and become a ubiquitous offering at parties and delis. But why limit yourself to chickpeas? While exploring the Mediterranean, I discovered an array of luscious spreads.

White Bean Spread with Sage

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 15-1/2-ounce or 19-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

pinch of cayenne pepper

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

With the side of a chef's knife, mash garlic with salt. Transfer garlic to a food processor. Add beans, oil, juice, cayenne and black pepper; puree until smooth. Scrape into a bowl; stir in sage. (The spread will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.)

Per tablespoon: 35 calories; 1 gram protein; 1 gram fat (0.2 gram saturated fat); 4 grams carbohydrate; 65 milligrams sodium; no cholesterol; 1 gram fiber

Greek Split Pea Spread

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 cup dried yellow split peas, rinsed

6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or parsley

1/4 cup chopped scallions

In a large saucepan, combine split peas, garlic and water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until mixture has cooked down to a thick puree, 10 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Press plastic wrap on the surface and let cool.

Transfer pea mixture to a food processor. Add lemon juice and oil; process until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl and stir in dill (or parsley). (The spread will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.) Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Per tablespoon: 20 calories; 1 gram protein, no fat, 3 grams carbohydrate; 54 milligrams sodium; no cholesterol; 1 gram fiber

Lima Bean Spread With Cumin and Herbs

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans

4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

freshly-ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add lima beans, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and crushed red pepper; cook until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let beans cool in the liquid.

Drain beans and garlic, and transfer to a food processor. Add oil, lemon juice and cumin; puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl and stir in mint, cilantro and dill. (The spread will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.)

Per tablespoon: 25 calories; 1 gram protein; 1 gram fat (0.2 gram saturated fat); 3 grams carbohydrate; 95 milligrams sodium; no cholesterol; 1 gram fiber

Lentil Tapenade

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed

4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

3 tablespoons black olive paste, or finely chopped oil-cured black olives

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and coarsely chopped, or ] teaspoon anchovy paste

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

In a large saucepan, combine lentils and garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until very tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Drain lentils and garlic, and transfer to a food processor. Add olive paste (or olives), capers, anchovies (or anchovy paste), lemon juice and oil; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl and stir in rosemary.

(The tapenade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.)

Per tablespoon: 25 calories; 1 gram protein; 1 gram fat (0.1 gram saturated fat); 3 grams carbohydrate; 50 milligrams sodium; no cholesterol; 1 gram fiber

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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