Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Garlicky White Bean Dip with Mustard Greens & Bacon

Makes about 4 cups
Garlicy White Bean Dip with Mustard Greens & Bacon
1 1/2 cups dried great northern beans
12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 bunch mustard greens, washed, stems removed, and torn into large pieces
10 fresh sage leaves
about 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
12 slices bacon

First, cook the beans: Sort through the beans and discard any wayward pebbles. Then, either cover with cool water and soak overnight at room temperature, or cover with boiling water and soak one hour. Pour off the soaking liquid.  Add the beans to a medium pot, along with the sage and bay leaves and about 1 tsp salt.  Cover with water and simmer gently until very tender, about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. When tender, remove the bay leaves and drain, saving the cooking liquid.

While beans are cooking, prep the garlic: Pull apart the head of garlic into separate cloves.  Slice off the tough bottom ends of each clove, and remove the peels, leaving the garlic cloves whole.  Place peeled garlic cloves in a small sauce pot and cover just barely with extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 cup’s worth.  Turn heat to medium and simmer until garlic is tender and lightly golden brown, 30-40 minutes.  Set aside until needed
Cook the bacon:  Roughly chop the bacon, then add to a hot sauté pan and cook until just crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and place atop a bed of paper towels.  Set aside until needed. 
And cook the mustard greens:  Return the pan with the bacon fat to the heat (about medium-high).  Add the prepped mustard leaves to the pan, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender.  Then remove from the heat and set aside until needed. 

Now, make the dip:  Add the beans (along with the sage leaves), 1/4 cup of the garlic-cooking oil, 1 tsp salt and about half of the cooked garlic to the bowl of a food processor.  Puree to smooth, then taste it.  If you’d like more garlic, add a little more, or even all if it.  (The strength of garlic can vary widely, so make sure you go by taste.)  Puree for about two minutes, until the mixture is incredibly smooth.  Add bean cooking liquid as needed, to give a spreadable consistency.  Add the bacon and the cooked mustard greens, then pulse a few times to evenly distribute the greens and bacon, dicing them up a little bit but not pureeing them.
To store, refrigerate in an air-tight container.  Will keep about five days.  Should be served at room temperature or slightly warm.