Fewer things make me happier than garlic, lots and lots of garlic.  Gianduja.  Argyle socks.  Making snap judgments. The word “ilk.”  And, of course, more garlic.  I noticed that people started coming within 10 feet of me today.  Since I don’t really like people* and try to maintain a 12-foot radius, another garlicky dinner was a no-brainer.
*Not you.

I will pay one of you $5 to caption this picture, because I’m just drawing a blank.

I still had 10 or 12 cloves of roasty, smooshy garlic leftover from Saturday’s dinner that were just begging to go for a ride in the FoPro with some white beans, good olive oil, salt and pepper.  But man cannot live on white bean dip alone – trust me, I’ve tried and it was NOT pretty; I think my toilet actually sent me a cease-and-desist notice, and let’s not even TOUCH the idea of how severe the issue has to become to lead to a commode developing sentience, let alone retaining an attorney. I decided to make some warm veg toppings, planning to generously smear some garlic toast with the bean dip, pile the veg on top and serve it with a simple spinach salad.  Gassy and smelly, but virtuous.

For the veg, I went with Charlie Palmer’s killer roasted peppers, which is now the only way I will consume peppers (that and I had leftover ingredients from the first go-round) and sauteed mushrooms and shallots with thyme and marsala.  I threw the peppers right on the gas range while I pulled the other needed ingredients.

A third of the way through the post, and I’m already taking the first bathroom break.

I minced some shallots, diced some cremini mushrooms – they’re my go-to all purpose mushroom, although deep in my soul I’m pretty sure they’re not any different from button mushrooms – and threw them into a skillet with a bit of olive oil and some fresh thyme, also leftover from Saturday.

There’s debate over when it is and is not appropriate to salt mushrooms; lots of people say that if you salt at the beginning of cooking, it’ll pull all the liquid out of the shrooms (which can be a lot) and they’ll simmer instead of saute.  Being the judgmental person I am, I will weigh in on this topic: who gives a flying fuck?  If you salt early sure, water will come out. And then it will cook off, and your shrooms will still brown.  If you wait and salt at the end, guess what?  Your mushrooms will still be brown.  So cook your mushrooms however the hell you want.  (I salt at the beginning, I just find it more foolproof and the liquid means you don’t have to use much oil and won’t have sticking and burning problems.)

FoPro cam, #1.

While the mushrooms cooked down and caramelized, I hauled out the cuisinart (it’s heavy, why do I keep it on such a high shelf?).  I put the roasted garlic in first with some salt and olive oil to make a paste before adding the beans, following the method I use to make hummus.

*Almost a year-old post!!  Behold the nostalgia!  No pictures or anything.

FoPro Cam, #2.

A drained and rinsed can of canellini beans joined the paste.  Yes, I know, soaked dried beans taste better but that requires more advance planning than I am willing to do.  I blended the whole thing until smooth, pouring in a little extra olive oil to thin the spread out just a touch and add a bit of olive-peppery bite.  I did this while simultaneously working on the mushrooms like the professional synergizer I am.

I also finished up the peppers, which were precisely the same as the Charlie Palmer peppers.  Which I already wrote about.  Do you really need me to write about it all over again?  Was the first description inadequate?  Do you think I have nothing better to do?  Well, I don’t.  I could think of something if I had to, I just don’t feel like it right now.

I may have only mentioned Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen once or twice or ten thousand times.  Let’s go for ten thousand and one: buy this damn book already.  Buy it for the peppers.  Buy it for the duck and soba noodles with ponzu sauce, which you will want to bathe in or possibly use as a facial tonic.  Do it for the killer shrimp tempura with citrus dipping sauce, and just try not to coat everything in your house with tempura batter and deep fry it.  BUY THIS BOOK.

I’ve Taylorized my kitchen for maximum plating efficiency.

While the peppers finished cooking down, I threw some slices of leftover baguette under the broiler for the bruschetta and managed not to char the living hell out of it, so score 2 points for me. I rubbed them with a clove of raw garlic, for extra insurance for my 12-foot anti-personnel radius, and tossed baby spinach with fresh lemon juice and salt – my favorite way to eat fresh spinach, although some sherry vinegar and a little drizzle of olive oil wouldn’t be too offensive.

I then assembled everything in our new white dinnerware*, because sometimes I like to take a moment to gaze upon the fruits of my labors before scarfing them down in a twentieth of the time if took to prepare them.

*I know, it always looks like I have white dinneware.  Until this weekend I only had one of each dish in white for photo purposes and normal eating happened on Fiestawate, but do you know how hard it is to make food look good on tangerine Fiestaware?  I’ll tell you: really fucking hard.  I mean, I know I’m a pretty stellar photographer, but even I need help sometimes.

I bet I’ll get, like, 15 feet tomorrow.  Score!

I heaped my plate with spinach, dolloped a coupla tablespoons of bean spread on each of 4 pieces of toast and topped two with the mushroom and two with the spinach mixtures.

So everything was really good – it’s hard not to like white bean dip, it’s hard not to like roasted garlic, and it’s hard not to like mushrooms and marsala.  The nutty roasted garlic added a real richness to the bean spread and the bright lemony spinach was a nice counterpoint.  But you will not be shocked at all to hear that the bruschetta with the roasted pepper mix was. The. Best.  Unless you don’t read these posts all the way through and skip to the end, then you might be shocked.  For those of you: THESE PEPPERS FUCKING RULE.  Seriously, I’m going to start making them in bulk and giving tupperware containers full of them away to people on the street.

And when you heap them on sweet garlicky bean spread? Gaaaaaaah.

And the best part?  This is cheap as shit!  You have a can of beans.  You have garlic.  You have olive oil.  You have some kind of bread.  The veg topping can be anything you want, and unless you live in a frat house you probably have some kind of fresh vegetable, and some kind of leafy green that you’re probably feeling guilty about not eating. I’m not even going to bother with the math, because it probably works out to like, $0.17 a person or something.  If you don’t have those things in your house, that is a problem.  Again, except for the frathouse exception; I guess those of you living there can heap Annie’s Shells and Cheese on your garlic toast.  But for the rest of us?  Frugal, nutritious, and nice enough to serve company.

This is what I do for you.

Disturbingly Easy White Bean Spread That Goes With Everything
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 14 oz. can canellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. good olive oil

Roast the garlic:  Pre-heat your oven to 400.  Toss the unpeeled cloves with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Wrap them in foil and roast for 45 minutes, opening the foil for the last 15 minutes.  Wait ’til the garlic is cool enough to handle, then squeeze the garlic out of the peel; it should pop out easily and be nice and soft.

Put the roasted garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a healthy dose of freshly cracked black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add the beans.  Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil through the pour spout if necessary to thin the spread out and to taste; check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve as described above, as a dip for pita chips or crudites, whatever.  It’s good stuff.