Master recipes are incredibly helpful, as they provide the basis for so many dishes. A person favorite, Mediterranean Spread with cannellini beans, was one of my recipes featured in the latest issue of California Bountiful Magazine (May/June 2014 issue), along with a write up about me! (My first magazine “appearance” – very exciting!)
Not only is the spread incredibly simple, but what makes it a true master recipe are the nearly limitless possibilities it invites! While perfect for spreading on toasted whole grain bread rounds before topping with tomato, garlic and basil, when making bruschetta, I also pipe it into baby bell peppers, then sprinkle with olives and sun-dried tomatoes, for another impressive appetizer that comes together in a flash! I feature it as a silky layer in my hearty roasted vegetable lasagna, and it can also provide a creamy base for an Italian or Greek style salad dressing, when thinned with your favorite red wine or balsamic vinegar and a splash of mustard, delicious on crisp leafy greens or drizzled over roasted veggies.
Speaking of veggies, it is time to grill some of your favorites on the BBQ or indoor grill – try zucchini, asparagus, red onion, eggplant, sweet potato, red bell peppers, mushrooms and more. Simply toss cut pieces with your favorite salt-free seasoning blend/rub and you are ready to go! In preparation for a Memorial Day BBQ with our neighbors, I thought it might be fun to use some of these delicious grilled veggies and the spread to create a fusion dish – Greek Fajitas! While I know that you will enjoy the recipes below, I also encourage you to have fun creating your own “fusion” dishes – which unite diverse flavor principles and a variety ingredients from different cultures into new eating experiences which pique your interest and tickle your tastebuds… the options are endless! Did you see my recent California Bountiful TV segment which featured me whipping up Humma-dillas in my kitchen? Remember my article about making pizza-dillas in my son’s classroom!? The write up about the invention of my Muhammarah-mus?… If you haven’t made these fusions in a while, find inspiration, recipes, and more at www.thenutritionprofessor.com!
Mediterranean Spread with Runner Cannellini – Master Recipe
1 1/2 cups of cooked white beans*
~10 cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or to taste)
3/4 tsp dried thyme (or to taste)
1/4 tsp salt (optional – to taste)
1-3 TBSP fresh lemon juice or veggie broth (only add liquid if spread is too thick)
Combine all ingredients, except lemon juice or broth, in food processor and puree until texture is smooth and creamy, adding a splash at a time of the lemon juice/broth, if too stiff. If you are lucky enough to have any leftover spread, the flavor will only improve with time, and it will be good for several days in the fridge or for months, if frozen!
The Nutrition Professor’s Shop Smart/Cook Smart Tips:
- Use your favorite white bean! I absolutely love the Runner Cannellini beans grown right here in Thornton, by Chip and Bobbie Morris (www.elegantbeansandbeyond), and often cook up a whole pound and freeze what I don’t use right away: 1 1/2 cups of beans per zip-top bag.
- Flavor boosts for the spread: red chili flakes, finely diced olives, finely chopped parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh garlic – proceed with caution when it comes to the amount of fresh garlic, as the flavor will intensify over time (esp. overnight)!
Mediterranean Spread (master recipe)
Toppings: Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts
Warm corn tortillas
Cut each vegetable into similarly sized pieces, for even cooking. Toss into a sturdy produce bag/zip-top bag and combine with your favorite salt-free seasoning, shaking well to ensure all pieces get coated. Grill (use skewers/grill basket/pan) until desired tenderness. Using a skewer for each type of veggie makes it easy to cook them to your liking. Grab a warm tortilla, smooth on a layer of spread, load up the veggies and sprinkle with the toppings, grab a few napkins and enjoy right away!
Timaree Hagenburger, of Lodi, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College and conducts corporate wellness work throughout the area.