Tuscan white bean spread

[10 Mar 2010 | By | 17 Comments]

garlicI find ‘white bean spread’ to be a spy-cover for what it really is: roasted garlic spread (at least—my version of it).

It is so common in trattorias and osterias all around Tuscany and greater Italy, to find a mix of bruschetta or crostini on the menu. In Tuscany we frequently run into these crostini toppers: liver spread, tomatoes, lard with or without honey, olive paste, ricotta, and very frequently: white bean spread.

Cannelini beans are the norm here. You will find them cooked with tomato sauce as a cradle for sausages, you will find them served by their lonesome, or in soups, on salads (try this one!) and quintessentially as a crostini-topper.

I cheat. I pump up my version of ‘Tuscan white bean spread’ with loads and loads of roasted garlic. Because I love it that way. And I am unafraid. Sure, I will smell like garlic for days… but it is worth it. And the beans and garlic pair so beautifully together in equivalent amounts that it seems they are a match made in heaven. I mean: who reduced the amount of garlic in the first place? When did ‘less garlic’ become law? In my mind—with this spread—I am setting things straight:

Tuscan white bean spread
white beans (canned beans, drained)
roasted garlic (many heads of it)
coarse salt
optional: whitish Italian herb blend
fantastic olive oil (new oil if you have it! but one that you just love to taste)
grilled bread (I sometimes broil, sometimes grill, sometimes press both sides in a saute pan to brown…)

Use a fork and mash together equal parts roasted garlic (I roast the garlic, then squeeze it out of its shell like toothpaste), drizzle in olive oil to achieve desired spreadable texture; add salt and herbs according to taste. Spread on crostini, drizzle with oil and serve.


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  • The Italian Dish said (10 March 2010 at 7:08 am):

    One of my favorite things – I love the addition of the roasted garlic – great idea!

  • janelle (author) said (10 March 2010 at 7:12 am):

    Elaine: well… I ADORE it but your friends and family might not thank me;). I end up smelling like a walking garlic plant…

  • Denise @ Creative Kitchen said (10 March 2010 at 7:27 am):

    This one sounds like a keeper!! I’m bookmarking it now. I love white beans…garlic, well all of it!

    Funny thing is…when growing up and in my 20s I used to think Italian was boring (you know spaghetti, pizza…all pastas taste the same…the americanized version I guess). In the past 5 yrs I’ve truly come to realize what authentic Italian means…WOW…no way it is boring! So flavorful, fresh….YUMMY!!

  • Chiara said (10 March 2010 at 10:16 am):

    Adding roasted garlic is a great idea! Will make this very, very soon!

  • Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog said (10 March 2010 at 2:42 pm):

    If you said roasted garlic spread, I’m in! I smell on the air this garlicky-crostini, so yummy!!



  • Kate said (11 March 2010 at 7:22 am):

    See…this is why I KNOW you and I would be great friends if we happened to ever share the same zip code. The more garlic the better, and this…. THIS! is one of my favorite things ever. *sigh* It’s morning here and now I want some of this spread.

  • Karen said (11 March 2010 at 7:30 am):

    Yum – all my favorite things in one! I can just taste it, except mine is missing your fresh Tuscan olive oil.

  • janelle (author) said (11 March 2010 at 11:47 am):

    Denise: so happy you found ‘real’ Italian food!
    Chiara: thanks—I hope you do!
    Gera: garlicky-crostini, I like the ring to that!
    Kate: with a big smile, absolutely!!! *sigh* its night here and I want some too;).
    Karen: oh yes! It is amazing. From what I hear, there are some fab ‘new’ and ’boutique’ or ‘artisan’ olive oils being pressed in California… might be worth a good drizzle… and I wouldn’t be surprised if you can buy some Italian olive oil right at a nearby specialty shop or kitchen shop…

  • Krista said (11 March 2010 at 3:23 pm):

    Yum, yum, yum! The last white bean spread I tried was so blah I was disheartened. But lashings of roasted garlic??! YAY! I’m excited to try it again. :-)

  • Claudia said (14 March 2010 at 7:11 pm):

    Oh – roast the garlic. Yes! Now I want it. Right this minute.

  • joni said (23 March 2010 at 10:56 pm):

    oh my goodness…so good i could take a swim in it. thanks for sharing–this will be on the table this weekend.

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