As I carefully wrapped my platter of chilled vegetables with attending dip this past weekend and prepared to dash out the door, it occurred to me that perhaps this simple combination was worth blogging about. I grabbed my camera, took a couple of quick shots―plastic wrap still attached―and kept running.
Granted, crudités and bean dip is not usually reason to get wildly excited, but if you are like me, you are probably faced with the quandary of coming up with quick party trays and dishes, too. I have used this one more times than I can recall.
During my catering days Tuscan Bean Dip was always a popular choice. It can be made ahead and left to chill well-covered in the fridge until needed. The vegetable and dip combination make the perfect launching point for an expanded Italian platter, piled high with olives, pickled peppers, salamis and/or cheeses.
No time to assemble a tray of vegetables? Folks love spreading Tuscan Bean Dip on crackers, smearing it on rustic sliced bread (grilled or not), and as a dipper with bread sticks. Should there be any left over, try it slathered in a sandwich instead of mayo…
Since we are working with basic, earthy ingredients, the success of Tuscan Bean Dip depends upon the use of the best quality ingredients afforded.
I prefer real cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, because they are large, creamy, and have a rich, rounded flavor that blends well with all sorts of herbs and seasonings. They carry their own magic.
For flavorings, on this occasion I opted for fresh basil, Italian parsley, green onions, and of course, a nice hit of fresh garlic. (Rosemary is a real favorite, if used judiciously.) Good quality extra virgin olive oil is a key addition to elevating this beyond ‘just another bean dip.’ Fresh lemon juice, its counterpoint, is also essential. You will know there’s a party going on when its brightness amps up all the simple, rustic ingredients.
Turns out, it was a warm early evening with folks scattered about seeking the shade of sprawling oak trees. The assorted veggies sprinkled with Italian olives and teamed with Tuscan Bean Dip drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, were a welcome complement to tomato bruschetta, frittata, yummy cheeses, and lots more.
Vegetable Platter with Tuscan Bean Dip
2 lbs Assorted vegetables: broccoli, snow peas, endive, celery, carrots (regular or baby) radishes, mushrooms, assorted peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, baby tomatoes
Tuscan Bean Dip
2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley chopped
2 tbsp green onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced well
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
- For bean dip: drain and rinse the beans.
- In a food processor combine all and mix until blended and beans are slightly mashed, but still retain texture. Cover and chill if making ahead. Yield: 2 -3 cups.
- For vegetables, trim and cut into finger-sized pieces. Can be prepped ahead at this point.
- To assemble tray, begin at one ‘corner”, and mound vegetables in separate groupings, layering on top of preceding veggies while moving toward center. Reserve space for the dip and continue filling in the platter. Garnish with radicchio and herbs. Serves 10 approx.