In my mission to nosh on healthier snacks than Snyder’s Jalapeno Pretzels, I’ve come to rely on hummus with celery sticks. I love hummus but I’m getting tired of the same thing all the time, so I’m looking for easy alternatives. Have I given up my jalapeno pretzels? I wish I were that strong, but when they’re on sale and I have a coupon, how can I resist?
Bean dips (without cheese) are a good healthy choice. If you google “white bean dip,” you’ll see many variations with different herbs, spices or lemon. This version from Serious Eats is described as Provencal but I saw many others described as Tuscan. I honed in on this one because it mimics a dip the writer enjoyed at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA.
I’ve never dined in Keller’s restaurants – Bouchon, French Laundry, Per Se or Ad Hoc. Before I moved to California, French Laundry in Yountville was his only restaurant, yet I could never plan my trips west early enough to get a reservation. By the time I moved to California and could afford his restaurants, I was no longer into high dollar dining. However, I once indulged in many treats from his Bouchon Bakery.
When my brother turned 40, his wife took him on a surprise (blindfold and all) weekend trip to Napa. They took a hot air balloon ride, visited wineries and then had mud baths and massages in Calistoga Springs. Later that evening, a few of us surprised him by joining them for dinner in Yountville. Good times. The next morning I loaded up my front seat with Bouchon goodies for the drive back to Sacramento. Way too many pastries for the miles.
That was as close to Keller as I’ll ever get. I used to own his first book, The French Laundry Cookbook, but never made a thing in it. I appreciate his genius and wouldn’t think of turning down a meal at any of his places as long as someone else is paying. There’s a chapter in Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour about a night he spent at The French Laundry that shows why dining can be more than just a meal. Crazy good food.
This simple bean dip is more my style. It’s a snap to make, although you do have to plan ahead because you’ll need an hour to roast a head of garlic. Adapt it to your taste: add lemon; drizzle it with olive oil; sprinkle it with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper or fresh herbs.
You could serve this with celery or other crudités, but I had a hankering for pita chips. Since I had time to kill while the garlic was roasting, I made my own instead of paying $4 for a little bag. Best pita chips ever! I’ll never buy them again. Jalapeno pretzels on the other *hand? I’m making no promises.
White Bean Dip
You’ll need a small baking dish and food processor.
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 head roasted garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Leaves of 1 stem of fresh rosemary
- Leaves of 3 stems of fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
To roast the garlic, slice off the top quarter of the garlic, drizzle a bit of olive oil into the head, wrap in foil and bake at 350 in a baking dish for 1 hour. Once it’s cooled enough to handle, unwrap and squeeze the flesh out of the skins.
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste.
Original recipe: Provencal White Bean Dip, Serious Eats
Homemade Pita Chips
You’ll need a baking sheet. You can toss the wedges in oil on the sheet or in a bowl. I eyeballed all the ingredients. I only used enough oil to glisten the wedges and allow the oregano, salt and pepper to adhere.
- Pita bread
- Olive oil
- Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400. Slice each pita in half so you have two sides. Then slice each half into 8 wedges. Toss the wedges with oil then arrange them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until toasted and golden. Serve the chips warm or at room temperature.
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