Italian Bean Dip

Makes 1¼ cups
(Vegan; no gluten, dairy, egg, soy or nightshades)

If you like to eat foods that bite you back with similar intensity: try this. It resembles a chunky hummus, Italian-style. Use it on bread, crackers or as a dip for raw vegetables and triangles of bread toasted with my dairy-free, herb and garlic version of Better Butter (see website RECIPES). Or add as a flavourful topping on baked or steamed vegetables, salad, poached fish or tofu. Any left-overs can be mixed with an egg and breadcrumbs and used to fill large mushroom caps. Fan Grill about 7 minutes for a vegetarian main. Serve with kumara wedges and salad.

As a top source of plant protein and soluble fibre, Legumes* help regulate blood sugar, vitality and Weight (see website TIPS articles). They are also good sources of folate, flavonoids and many minerals especially Magnesium, Potassium and Iron (TIPS). Legumes are generous to the land as well. They are a useful rotational crop, adding nitrogen – without which no plant, animal or person can grow – and allowing the soil to rest and regenerate.

400g tin cannellini beans*, drained (1¼ cups cooked beans)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
6 black olives, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped; or handful parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
¾ tsp sea salt with seaweed*
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oreganum
75 ml (5 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil*

Place all ingredients except olive oil in the food processor. Process very briefly to combine. Gradually pour in olive oil until mixture is well combined but not completely pureed. There should be chunks of contrasting colours and textures. Serve, or cover and chill.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Legumes: pod-bearing plants such as peas, beans, soy and lentils. Soak overnight and discard water to help eliminate an enzyme that can lead to poor digestion and gas. Add ample fresh water. Bring to a boil uncovered (watch for foaming; do not add salt as this slows cooking) until soft enough to squeeze between your fingers. They will almost triple in volume. See The Shape Diet for individual cooking times. Or buy cooked and tinned (Ceres and Delmaine brands in supermarkets have only salt, water). Cook extra, freeze, or chill and use within a week in fritters, burgers, casseroles, salads, soups, stews.

• Sea salt: is simply sea water dehydrated by the sun. When mixed with a little seaweed (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brand. Both are in health stores and gourmet stores. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or the sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals have been stripped away. These minerals such as potassium and magnesium naturally help regulate fluid balance, blood pressure and other related concerns. Other chemicals may be added to table salt to prevent clumping and the salt may be bleached.

• Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

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