I 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)
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.