CSA Merrimack Valley – Bean Dip
It is always challenging to find local foods to incorporate into our holiday feasts. It also can be a challenge to offer remarkable appetizers to keep your family or guests engaged while the holiday supper is being prepared. Utilizing foods that can be stored all winter, such as dried beans, hearty onions and fruit jams, we can use up local items from our pantry to feed our holiday guests. Combining these pantry staples with fresh New England dairy options, such as cheeses and sour cream, enables us to create extraordinary versions of the classic dips we are all familiar with. This holiday season, dig deep into your pantry and then turn to the bounty of local dairy options to ensure your guests have already had an amazing meal even before dinner hits the table.
Start to finish: 90 minutes
1 pound dried pinto beans (or substitute canned) 1 small chopped sweet onion
1 large chopped jalapeno pepper 1 large chopped green bell pepper
6 cloves smashed garlic 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
Soak the beans in cold water overnight. The water should be at least 1 inch above the top of the beans.
The next day, drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Then place the beans in a large stockpot and cover them in fresh water. Again, the water should be at least 1 inch above the top of the beans.
Turn the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure the bottom of the beans do not stick to the pot.
When the beans are very soft, strain them and reserve the cooking water.
Next, using a potato masher or stick blender, mash the beans into a chunky paste, adding 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid at a time until the desired texture is achieved. The mixture should have some texture and not be perfectly smooth.
Once the bean mixture is ready, add the cheddar cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Finally, add the onion, jalapeno, green bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Mix thoroughly and transfer to a serving dish.
This is best served with pretzels, sliced bell peppers or sturdy tortilla chips.