Reminiscent of hummus, here creamy white beans stand in for the traditional chickpeas, and the result is a smooth, luxurious-tasting and flavorful dip that works with a myriad flavors or on its own.

Here, the dip is perked up with a lemony, garlicky pesto, which though untraditional is so good, it may change the way you view this well known Italian dish. A garnish of toasted pine nuts adds an additional, delightful texture for an irresistible start to a meal.

Storage Notes: The dip and pesto can be refrigerated in separate containers for up to 2 days.

_______

White Bean Dip With Lemony Pesto and Crudites

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes: 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PESTO

  • 4 cups (scant 1 ounce) loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) plus 1 tablespoon lightly toasted pine nuts, divided (see NOTE)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 medium juicy lemons), plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup (scant 1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

FOR THE DIP

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 medium juicy lemons)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)
  • Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots and/or pita chips, for serving

STEPS

  1. Make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, the garlic and salt and pulse until the basil is finely chopped and the garlic and pine nuts are minced (about 15 pulses). Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice and pulse a few times more, until the mixture is chunky. Fold in the Parmesan cheese, taste and season with more salt and/or lemon juice, if desired. The pesto should be loose enough to be spooned over the dip.
  2. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and rinse out the food processor (you just want to get rid of the green bits so the bean dip stays white).
  3. Make the dip: In the same food processor, combine the beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the motor and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula and process again for a few seconds. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil and process to incorporate, about 1 minute; the dip should be smooth and airy. Taste, and season with additional salt and/or lemon juice, if desired, keeping in mind that the pesto brings lots of flavor.
  4. To serve, divide the dip among individual 8-ounce ramekins or bowls. Top with spoonfuls of the pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, and garnish with the basil chiffonade, if using, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of pine nuts. Place the ramekins on individual plates with assorted vegetables and/or pita chips and serve.

NOTE: To toast the pine nuts, in a small, dry pan over low heat, add the pine nuts and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until golden and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl to prevent further cooking.