This past weekend we decided to forego several larger, more crowded local events (Preakness, Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, Wine in the Woods) in favor of a beautiful hour-long drive to one of our favorite vineyards (on the east coast, that is).
Breaux vineyards is located outside of historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. It’s rolling green fields, tables nestled beneath shade trees, and landscaped tasting terrace make it the perfect place to tote a picnic and lawn chairs and enjoy a bottle of cold Viognier (my personal favorite and named one of the top 250 wines of 2012 by British wine expert Oz Clarke).
Whenever I pack a cooler for Breaux, this spread is always on the menu. Every so often I cook a large pot of white beans and freeze them in two cup portions so that I always have them on hand for meals or, in this case, this flavorful spread on a moment’s notice.
This spread screams for homemade pita chips. That’s right, I said homemade. Purchase a package of small whole wheat pitas and cut them into quarters. Toss them in a baggie with olive oil until they’re lightly coated. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie and sprinkle with sea salt and, if desired, dried herbs. Bake at 375 degrees until crunchy, about 12-15 minutes. remove from cookie sheet and place on a paper towel to drain and cool. You’ll thank me.
white bean spread with rosemary and toasted almond (from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups cooked white beans, or 1 (15 ounce can, rinsed and drained)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed to taste
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 to 3/4 cup hot water
In a small saucepan, combine olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Over medium-low heat, slowly warm the mixture until the oil just barely starts to sizzle. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour the oil through a strainer and discard the garlic and rosemary bits (*honestly, I don’t do this).
In a food processor, combine the beans, two-thirds of the almonds, 1/2 tsp salt, the lemon juice, and two-thirds of the rosemary oil. Pulse a couple of times to combine ingredients. Add water, starting with 1/4 cup, and pulse. Continue adding water, if necessary, to achieve a consistency of thick frosting. I’ve never had to add more than 1/4 cup, but it depends on what consistency you like. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt, if needed.
Serve spread in a small dish. Sprinkle top with lemon zest and remaining almonds and drizzle with remaining rosemary oil.