The Perfect Alternative to Potatoes, Rice, or Pasta – High Protein, Low Fat Too!

Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of alternative sides. Grains like farro, millet, quinoa, polenta (Craig has grown to really like it!), and mashed beans, which surprisingly imitates the creamy goodness of fat on the pallet similar to mashies made with lots of butter and cream. Last Saturday we had friends to dinner, and I made braised lamb shanks with garlic and herbs. This white bean puree has enough body to stand up as a robust side to the bold flavor of lamb (pork and beef too). These are so garlicky and creamy, I could eat mounds of them – and leftovers are tasty spread on a toasted English muffin. Low fat and high protein, super easy if you budget soaking time for the beans, and super cheap. I found the original recipe years ago in The Vinter’s Table Cookbook but have changed a bit. The recipe halves nicely, too.

White Bean Puree
Serves 8 – 10

16 oz. dried Great Northern beans
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes or – if in season – 2 tomatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and sort the beans. Soak overnight. Drain the beans.

Combine the beans with the onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, and enough stock to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 1 hour or untile the beans are tender, adding additional stock as needed to keep the beans covered.

Stain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Combine the beans with about 1/3 cup of cooking liquid in a food processor and process until the mixture holds its shape with a spoon, adding more liquid s needed. Or you can put the beans and liquid back in your pan and puree with a stick blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

These can be made earlier in the day and reheat nicely on the “Reheat” cycle of the microwave – but make sure you save some of the cooking liquid as it tends to thicken when cooled.

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