Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ladies Dinner Night - Cauliflower, White Beans and Berries, Oh My!

As you saw last week I bought a head of cauliflower and used 1/2 for the Curried Cauliflower Soup, which meant that I still had 1/2 left. With my ACIS ladies coming over for dinner Sunday night I knew I wanted to incorporate this cauliflower into something, but I didn't know what. Then I remembered I saw Rachel Ray use cauliflower in a mac and cheese recipe, and I thought - that's perfect! I'll note that the ladies have very different food preferences - 1 vegetarian, 1 vegan-to-be and 2 we'll eat anything kind of girls (yes, one of those is me), so I knew I wanted to make something vegetarian, but still filling!

This was the first dish I decided on for a little something to nibble on while my friends arrived, I was still cooking and for catching up over wine!

Mediterranean White Bean Dip
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Head of Garlic, roasted*
2 TB fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 TB
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 stalk scallion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt and 2 grinds of fresh pepper
Veggies, Pita Chips, Marinated Artichokes

This recipe is SO easy, and I really mean it, I promise. I know sometimes I say something is easy, then it turns out it really isn't (as my friend pointed out to me), but this one really is. All you have to do is put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend! You can start with the beans, lemon juice, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper.
Once this is blended you can add the garlic and olive oil, a little at a time (through the hole on the top of your food processor if you have one). The roasted garlic (see below for directions) will easily squeeze right out of it's shell and will blend right into the dip, so you'll have that roasted garlic flavor in every bite.
*Okay, so there's one more step before all of this happens. You need to roast a head of garlic! It will make your house smell deliciously garlicy - and it makes a huge difference in the flavor of the white bean dip, rather than using raw garlic. All you have to do is take off some of the outer white layers from the outside of the whole head of garlic, then cut off about 1/4-1/2" of the top of the head and put it root side down into a small ramekin or baking bowl. Cover with aluminum foil and put into a 400 degree oven for a good 40 minutes.
It's that easy! This is a great dinner party or family party dish - with a mixture of veggies and pita to dip into the hummus-like dip, it can be healthy too! I put some other Mediterranean sides out too so it was sort of like a Mezze Platter:  marinated artichokes, dried apricots, olives, and a fresh toasted sliced bread would make a nice white bean bruschetta dish.

Next Up: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese!

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