Herbed White Bean Dip.

I made chili with the first can of accidentally-purchased white beans; now, what to do with the second can? I considered making another batch of that heavenly chili, but a brave chef would branch out and try something new. And I really do try to be a brave chef, after all. So I took the advice of my cousin Caitie and my reader Laurie and made a bean dip. This herby, spicy dip is a great substitute for hummus (ironically, that’s what I meant to make when I picked up these cans of beans in the first place!), but spread a hefty scoop on a sandwich and you’ll go nuts! A totally guilt-free dip or spread–what more could I ask for from an ingredient I bought by accident?!

INGREDIENTS

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/8 tsp fresh lemon balm, minced
1/4 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste (you’re gonna need more salt that you think, so go easy and add more as needed)
1 can great northern beans or other white beans, drained
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a food processor: first the gorgeous garlic, herbs, and spices.

Then the beans and olive oil.

Blitz everything until you reach desired consistency. Add more olive oil as needed. Then add more cayenne pepper because you didn’t add enough the first time.

Garnish with parsley and serve with warm pita bread, tortilla chips, spread on a sandwich, or my favorite, with orange and purple carrot sticks.

Summer Carrot Salad.

While wandering around the farmers market on Saturday morning, I encountered a little boy standing in front of a big pile of purple carrots. He was trying so hard to make sense of these strangely-colored vegetables, and both his mother and the man behind the table were indulging his curious questions. I love to see little ones engaged in farmers market culture, so I decided to play along, too. “I think I have to get some of those,” I said to the boy. “Would you pick me out a nice bunch?” He looked back at me with wide eyes and then started to dig through the purple carrots, handing me a bunch that he seemed to have chosen for no reason in particular. I thanked him, smiled at his mother, paid the $3, and went home to make this salad for my family. Goes great with flank steak. A good day.

INGREDIENTS

1 small onion, diced
2 bunches orange carrots, grated to thin, long strips
1 bunch purple carrots, grated to thin, long strips
2 cloves garlic, minced almost to a paste
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteing the onions
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
handful of raw almonds, crushed with the back of a knife

DIRECTIONS

Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and add onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.

Combine garlic, the rest of the olive oil, vinegar, cayenne pepper, coriander, sugar, and salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

Combine carrots, onion, dressing, and almonds, and toss. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. Garnish with parsley and enjoy with steak or burgers as a healthier replacement for cole slaw.

Windowsill Herb Garden and Garlic Thyme Olive Oil.

Fresh herbs look, smell, and taste amazing, so of course they’re always welcome in my kitchen. But they’re really something of a luxury, aren’t they? Not anymore! This week I made a trip out to Gethsemane Garden Center to realize the city girl’s dream of growing my own herbs at home. There were a ton of gorgeous fruit, vegetable, and herb plants to choose from, so I decided to start off with a few of my favorites. And since I don’t have garden or porch space in my new apartment, my herbs grow in pots on my living room windowsill (for now…who knows how long I can keep these alive…). Also, a quick and easy but totally luxurious and aromatic olive oil “recipe” using herbs from my garden!

Here’s my lovely mint, great for tea:
UPDATE: I just discovered that this is actually a lemon balm plant, which is similar to mint but has a more lemony scent. Still great for tea though!

Rosemary and thyme, the second half of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair”:

And my favorites, the parsley and chives:

Now, let’s perk up that regular old olive oil and make it something special: Garlic Thyme Olive Oil.

INGREDIENTS:

Olive oil (Extra virgin is fine, but I like to use regular olive oil because it’s nicer to cook with)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 cloves of garlic

DIRECTIONS:

Peel cloves of garlic. Rinse thyme and pat it dry. Let both garlic and thyme dry thoroughly, at least an hour (any water leftover can lead to spoilage).

Add washed and dried aromatics to a clean bottle and fill with olive oil. Let steep for 4 days, then remove thyme and garlic (again, to prevent spoilage). Use within 2 months. Great for sauteing veggies, making salad dressings, and dipping fresh-baked bread.