With the early Spring that has arrived in fits and spurts of 80 degree cloudless skies and 55 degree storm swept days, we have been inspired to bring new dishes to farmers’ market. As the pendulum swings from soups & stew to outdoor grilling weather we are still bringing our popular chicken and beef pot pies to market, but we are leaning toward some lighter fare. One advantage of the mild winter is that our tarragon, parsley, sage, lavender and rosemary have emerged triumphant. A few plants, however, are hardly enough to bring herb pestos to all of our markets. As I wrote in my blog, “How are you eating lately? my own menu has shifted toward more salads and pasta a few times a week. Inspired by the food guide in 3 Season Diet by John Douillard, I have experimented with lima and white beans to make hummus.
What did I come up with? My first recipe was an adaptation of a recipe found on epicurious. I used lima beans that I had soaked overnight with vinegar and water. I pureed them in a blender with garlic, toasted sunflower seeds, olive oil, lime juice and salt. The result was similar to a classic hummus made from chick-peas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini. It lasted for a week in the fridge serving me well for hors d’oeuvres, and a few lunches. Will I make that first recipe again… probably not.
On a recent trip to Chicago’s Trattoria #10 in the Loop, I found an inspiration that has made me rethink beans and herbs. As part of the bread course, Trattoria #10 serves what they call an herbed cannellini bean spread. Lighter than hummus with hints of bergamot and garlic that are not overwhelming, I wanted more. What was the secret, and why did I like it so much more than regular hummus? With some experimentation in the kitchen I got to the heart of the matter. Hummus is pretty darn easy to whip up with canned beans, olive oil, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. The only trick that Mediterranean and North African restaurants have to make theirs super smooth is using chick-pea flour instead of or in addition to whole chick peas. Lot’s of olive oil never hurts either.
How will Smith Meadow’s white bean pesto be different? Our home made chicken stock, beans slow cooked with white wine, and herbs from our garden are a start. Why should you pick up a container of this heavenly blend when you could do it yourself at home? Time. Plain and simple. I don’t hide the fact that my business is designed to let busy people have a gourmet meal at home at the end of a long work day with zero effort. You can serve our white bean pesto as a dip with fresh vegetables. You can use it to top your focaccia with sun dried tomatoes and carmelized onions. You can use it as a sauce on one of our ravioli or ribbon pastas. You can just eat it with a spoon while you are making your own gourmet dinner. If you need to try some first, come to farmers market this weekend at Arlington Courthouse on Saturday or Dupont Circle on Sunday where we will be sampling our new pesto with oatcakes.