Monday, March 1, 2010

On an Easy White Bean Dip Recipe and Being Late to the Party

Today on Serious Eats, it’s Niçoise Pasta Salad. If you’re craving a little bit of summer, you will love this like a loving lover.

The Onion’s AV Club recently asked its writers about art they discovered too late – stuff that could have been life-changing at 17, but meant zilch at 27. A few contributors mentioned video games and Star Wars. Another, Harry Potter. One woman claimed Bob Dylan did nothing for her, having been subjected to so many bad impressions before hearing the actual thing.

It was kind of a bummer, honestly. (A life without Star Wars is a life without joy.) But it got me thinking about things I waited too long to try, and how that timeframe affected my appreciation for them.

Let’s see. Emo music is definitely one. What I might have found romantic and charmingly melancholy at 20 sounded like self-indulgent whining at 25. Same goes for everything on Cartoon Network. In 2000, it could have been revelatory. In 2010, I just want Tim & Eric to get to the point already.

The big tuna: I read On the Road when I was 27, about ten years after I should have. It came highly recommended, and the prose was all it was cracked up to be – weird and gorgeous, evocative and elusive.

The problem came with the message. Instead of, “Let’s hop in a Chevy, ditch this town, and fill our time with freedom, just like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity!” I thought, “What irresponsible jags, leaving their families and responsibilities for such silliness. Those beatniks need some damn jobs.” Harsh, man. Harsh.

The experience made me happy I caught One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest my sophomore year of college, and Catcher in the Rye in 9th grade. They’ll always be two of my favorite novels, probably because all teenagers relate to alienation. Sometimes I wonder if I would find them foolish now, if I had just picked them up for the first time. How sad.

It’s such a relief, then, that the opposite happened with food and cooking. They meant nothing to me as a kid; they were means to an end. The less time they took, the better. But age has made me appreciate vegetables and cast iron pans, spices and the pleasures of a good roast chicken.

There’s no easy way to segue into a White Bean Dip here, so I’ll just awkwardly cut to the chase: this recipe is tasty, fantastically easy, and dang addictive. It’s barely even cooking, actually – more like alchemy. Just a few ingredients thrown together to create manna.

That aside, what about you, readers? What did you discover too late? How do they differ from the things you found later, but appreciated immediately? What do you look forward to getting into? It's all about possibilities, isn't it? And if something doesn't connect, that's okay. But what a thrill when it does.

If you like this recipe, you might also appreciate:

White Bean Dip
Makes 6 servings of 1/4 cup each.
Adapted from Ellie Krieger.
(This is actually a picture of CHG's hummus, because ... uh, technical malfunction? They look pretty much the same, though.)

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree. Taste and see if you like the results. If not, add more of what’s missing. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
115 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, $0.28

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained: 440 calories, 0 g fat, 24 g fiber, $0.99
1 clove garlic: 4 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.05
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.23
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: 8 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.40
Kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
TOTAL: 691 calories, 27.1 g fat, 24.2 g fiber, $1.69
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 115 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, $0.28

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