I created this bean spread for some heirloom Arikara beans when I wanted to make something like humus, but to explore different culinary terrain. Instead of sesame seeds, I substitute toasted almonds, and rather than garlic, I used leeks slowly sauteed in olive oil, into which I stirring my soft cooked beans. Then, because this dish seemed to be journeying from the eastern Mediterranean toward the Iberian Peninsula, I finish off the pureed paste with a splash of sherry vinegar and a dusting of smoked paprika. The final dish tasted almost like pâté, rich and flavorful, with a hint of sherry. It made a nice dip for raw vegetables and a great lunch spread on fresh bread accompanied by fruity salads. —Fairmount_market
dried Arikara beans (or substitute white kidney beans)
Rinse the Arikara beans and cook them, covered, on very low heat with about 3 1/2 cups of water, the thyme sprigs and a pinch of water until very soft, about four hours. Add more water during the cooking process if necessary and when the beans are done, add more salt to taste.
Remove the root and green stem from the leek, slice lengthwise, and wash thoroughly. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat, add the olive oil, and saute the leeks for about 10 minutes, until they are very soft, but avoid browning them. Add the cooked beans and their cooking liquid and simmer with the leeks to meld the flavors and reduce the broth. The final mixture should have about about a half cup of syrupy liquid remaining.
Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry skillet until fragrant. Transfer them to a food processor and pulverize into a fine meal. Add the leeks and beans and process for several minutes until smooth. Add the sherry vinegar and pulse. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Transfer to a bowl and dust with smoked paprika. Serve with fresh vegetables or crusty bread.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.