This is a funny thing for someone who is ostensibly a food blogger to admit, but, I'm just not very good at feeding myself. I don't mean the actual 'open mouth, insert food' part, I've pretty much got that basic move nailed down. I mean it in every other sense in which that phrase can be taken, though. I am not always the best at remembering to nourish myself, to create art and beauty and plates of lovingly crafted sustenance when it's only lonely old me that's the audience. Cooking for a crowd, feeding a family, prepping for a party....sure, all these things inspire me to new heights of creative wonder. But dinner for one can be a tricky thing.
All that precious time spent dicing and roasting, all the theatrics of the swirl of garnishing oil, of bringing the steaming plates to the table, of brandishing the carving knife, all that work for.......what? Who's going to see this, to appreciate this, to consume this, but.......me?
I'm going to have the chance to confront that idea over and over again for the next three weeks, as my other half has taken a too-great-to-pass-up temporary work opportunity and has flown away to the Midwest, while I'm here holding down the fort alone. Keeping odd hours and making meals of random assortments of cheese on sliced bread, furiously working the crossword until two in the morning while forgetting to eat, then guiltily eating three Greek yogurts in a row, these have been my general go-to plan whenever I've been alone before.
No longer. Dinner is about more than food, right? Right. And feeding oneself can be a chore, or it can be a lovely little performance for one. No melancholy meals of limp breakfast porridge for this one, no more sadly lacking sandwiches. No clichéd solitary ice cream dinners, eaten straight from the carton, standing up in the kitchen by the harsh glow of fridgelight (okay, can't actually promise that I won't do this one ever, I mean come on. Hazelnut gelato is a thing I am powerless to resist). I will have fresh vegetables. I will take the time to make soup from scratch, even if no one's around to applaud. I will even roast a whole chicken, stuffed with fresh herbs & lemon, if the mood strikes.
I will feed myself. And I will start with this white bean hummus.
This is technically a white bean dip masquerading as a ‘hummus’, since it’s made without tahini, the nutty sesame-based paste that gives classic hummus its flavor. In its absence, though, the golden, rich flavor of roasted garlic sings through clearly, as does the zippy, herbaceous kick of fresh rosemary. And in terms of its creamy, hearty consistency it feels exactly like hummus when spread on a cracker (or a raw carrot, or a pita chip, or my absolute favorite, a rustic slice of crusty bread toasted golden brown). I just recently made a batch of this to take to a party, since it's a dish that travels well and feeds a crowd handily, but it would have made an equally excellent dinner for one with a side of greens and some crusty bread. Hummus or bean dip, you’ll have to decide what to call it, but either way I think you’ll just call it delicious.
White Bean ‘Hummus’ with Roasted Garlic & Rosemary
4 cloves garlic
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Lay 4 cloves of garlic—papery skins and all—on a 6-inch square of aluminum foil and twist to form a foil packet. Place in the oven and roast until garlic is soft and browned and so amazing-smelling that you want to spread it directly on bread (about 40-45 minutes). Remove, let cool.
Place cannellini beans in a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of your food processor if using one. A food processor will give you a smoother, creamier dip, but I sometimes like to simply crush my beans with the back of a fork for a more rustic texture. Either way is fine! Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves directly from their skins into the bowl with the beans, crush with fork or pulse with food processor to combine. Add olive oil, lemon juice, water, and rosemary, continue to blend until you reach your desired consistency. Add salt & pepper according to taste. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil before serving.