I made gougeres for a little Christmas Eve party, and they were just crying out for something to fill them. Gougeres are basically cream puff dough to which cheese and or other ingredients have been added. They are delicious on their own, but just as with a cream puff, they have an empty center. Trying to think of something to fill them, once again I turned to beans. |
During the summer I made some little cheese cups for an appetizer and needed a filling. I grabbed a can of white beans, set them in a strainer to run cold water over them for about 5 minutes. This releases much of the extra salt in the canned product. Next the beans go into the food processor and I add in whatever sounds good at the moment. At that time I used 8 ounces of cream cheese, some garlic, a small jar of roasted red peppers and drained and chopped fresh rosemary from my garden. It was absolutely delicious. More recently I turned to a can of kidney beans, adding in some goat cheese and cream cheese, garlic and chopped fresh thyme. This made a most lovely pink spread. Any of these may be used as a dip also, for crackers. Hummus is also a dip or spread made with a can of chickpeas.
Tonight I made a filling for my gougeres. I used a can of white beans, well drained and washed and put them in the food processor with 4 ounces each of cream cheese and mild goat cheese like Chevre or Montrachet. I added in 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of drained capers, a pinch of white pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The capers and the mustard give this filling a piquancy that should stand up to the flavors of roasted red pepper, garlic and grated pecorino in the gougeres.
Obviously not all of these possible bean dishes are processed to a paste, though they are great that way. Many impromptu salads use a can of beans as a base, such as a black bean salsa, which is also great as a side dish. Texas Caviar is a dip made with black eyed peas. A lovely and quick salad might use black beans, chopped tomato and avocado. Fry chopped bacon and toss that in. Saute some thinly sliced onion until tender, then add in a teaspoon each of vinegar and sugar and stir. Pour this over the mixture and toss to combine.
Still, the very blandness of beans is what makes them the perfect background for other livelier flavors. Bacon is always a great addition to a dip, spread or cheese ball, and finely chopped fried bacon is wonderful in one of these fillings or dips. Look at fresh herbs for alternate flavors, and even color, depending on how much is used. White beans with a good handful of parsley or cilantro or both, along with garlic and some cream cheese would be a lovely pale green spread.
Perhaps one recipe for fudge is the most unusual use for a can of beans, but because of the blandness of the beans, they make great filler and give body to the fudge. Take one can of pinto beans, well drained and rinsed for 5 minutes under running water. Drain well and place in food processor. Add in 3/4 cup of melted unsalted butter, one cup of cocoa powder and one tablespoon of vanilla. Process this to a very fine paste. Transfer the paste to a large bowl, preferably a heavy duty stand mixer. Add in 2 pounds of confectioners’ sugar and mix until mostly blended, then add in 2 cups of chopped nuts of choice and mix until completely combined. Butter or grease a 13 x 9 inch pan and press this mixture in and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set, and then cut in pieces. This fudge is so delicious no one would ever guess it contained beans. Be creative with this versatile staple and make your own combinations. A nutritious addition to a meal is always important, and making such tasty dips and spreads and even fudge is so easy there is no reason not to give them a try.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. Visit my Web site A Harmony of Flavors my Blog at A Harmony of Flavors Blog my Marketplace A Harmony of Flavors Marketplace or Facebook page, A Harmony of Flavors. I hope to see you there soon.
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