Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cool Beans

Spain's recent success in the area of sports has provided me with several occasions for entertaining. From the first soccer gathering I posted my tapenade recipe, one of many no cook party dishes always kept in my back pocket. After all, the cramped spaces of a small New York City apartment are never pleasant in the sweltering summer heat, and no matter how strong your air conditioner, the oven and even the stove top are certain to become the enemy of any host. In order to avoid experiencing summer hostess meltdown, I keep a few easy to assemble, day ahead appetizers in my repertoire, and pepper my offerings with a new dish or two.

During the championship game last weekend I served a delicious new dish inspired by various experiences. As I planned the menu for the second gathering it became clear that even though there would be twice as many people in attendance, I couldn't simply serve last weekend's dishes. So, I kept the tapenade because it's always popular and, frankly, who celebrates Spain without olives? But, my white bean dip had been seen at more than one gathering and therefore needed to be replaced. In it's place I decided to make something that wasn't a dip, but would instead already be assembled and guests could just bite into or pop in their mouths. I love the ideas of little crostini's and bruschetta's because they're so easy to make, but always impressive (which is why I never order them at restaurants).

Because I love white beans and how prevalent they are in Spanish cuisine, I went with a white bean tostada (the Spanish equivalent of a crostini). It's really easy to make and can be done at least an hour or two ahead of time and reheated. And like any yummy bean or legume dish, it almost tastes better as a leftover. It's an almost effortless and ridiculously cheap dish, especially considering how great it looks and tastes. Not to mention, it actually tastes better with canned white beans (genius!), and my favorite brand (Goya) is only 89 cents a can. Chock full of spices, wine, and extra virgin olive oil, this tostada is full of flavor, and no one has to know you made it in 20 minutes.

White Bean Tostada

1 can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp rosemary, ground
1/2 tsp thyme, ground
1/2 tsp sage, ground
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of half a lemon
good extra virgin olive oil
black pepper

1. Heat olive oil (about 1/4 cup), shallot and garlic over medium low heat. Sweat until softened and do not allow to brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add beans and cook on medium heat another 2 minutes until heated through, then stir in all of the spices and cook another minute. Add white wine and cook another minute, then add balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil and toss to coat. Serve on toasted country bread or spiced cheese crackers. Enjoy!


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