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White Bean and Basil Purée with Peasant Bread Toasts

The key to this easy and delicious appetizer is to use the best bread you can find. I like rosemary-scented peasant bread, but any freshly baked hearth bread works very nicely.

Yield: 6 servings

Purée

  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) dried white cannellini beans
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons crème fraîche
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toasts

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 round slices peasant bread
  • 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved for garnish
  • 12 whole basil leaves, for garnish

To prepare the purée, pick over the beans, discarding any broken or misshapen ones, and rinse thoroughly. Put the beans in a large bowl, add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches and set aside to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and transfer them to a stockpot. Quarter 1 of the onions, reserving the other for a later use. Add the water, stock, quartered onion and parsley and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes until just tender, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Be careful not to overcook. Drain, discard the onions and parsley and set the beans aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Chop the remaining onion, add it and the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the beans are heated through. Set aside to cool.

Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the crème fraîche and pulse 8 or 9 times until smooth. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth.

To prepare the toasts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and lay them on a baking sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, spread the purée generously on the toasts and top each with olive halves and basil leaves for garnish.

Cocktail Party 2000 Home | Barbara Scott-Goodman Hors D'Oeuvres Home |


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