Sunday, February 21, 2010

Unfinished Business

The Beans

The Southern Living white beans were delicious, but I knew after 2 servings the leftovers needed to be morphed into something else- like a dip or hummus, as I mentioned when I first made them. So that's what I did this morning before I headed over to Ruth's to spend the afternoon cooking with her and Sammie in the kitchen. This was simple. Even for me, the incompetent blender.

Hummus/Bean Dip

In a blender, place 2 cups of my cooked Southern Living white beans and 1/3 cup of liquid. Liquid can be water, left over chicken broth (good thing I saved mine, right?), hot sauce, or a combination of the three. The point is you need some liquid to loosen the thickened beans. I used 1 T hot sauce and the rest chicken stock. Whirl away until you just see specks of bacon and the mixture looks smooth. Taste it for seasoning. I didn't need to do a thing. So I headed off to Ruth's, and we ate it like peasants, on lavash bread, nothing else. No garnish, No vegetables. Yes, we are still hippies.

The unfortunate thing was, Sammie could not have any dip.

The Parmigiano Croutons

Remember these? They were delish on their own. But really, how much snacking can you do? I can do plenty, but I'd rather have croutons in my salad, a salad where they are the star of the show.

Roasted Grape Tomato Panzanella Salad

4 cups of prepared Parmegiano croutons
8 oz grape tomatoes
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cup English cucumbers peeled and diced
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
10 or more Kalamata olives
4 oz Fontina cheese

1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking oil. Place grape tomatoes on baking sheet, spray with cooking oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake 15 minutes until tomatoes begin to split. Let cool. In large bowl combine tomatoes, croutons, cucumber, onions, olives and cheese. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake or whisk with a fork. Toss salad with dressing and let flavors meld before serving. This also went with me to Ruth's, and was gobbled up as fast as the bean dip.

A few thoughts about the salad. I roasted the tomatoes because I like the earthiness they offer, plus the juices enhance the flavor. However raw tomatoes are fine. If parsley or basil looked good in my market (or any market around here) I would have added some. And if I had capers in my fridge I would have added a tablespoon as well. Also, I usually put some fresh garlic in my dressings, but since the croutons had that lovely hint of garlic, I figured it wasn't necessary. And the cheese- I like Fontina, but goat cheese would be a winner as well.

I still owe an update on the peanut butter granola bars. I recently made them with cherries and chocolate. I think you'll want the recipe.

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