Posts tagged ‘Rosemary’

April 19, 2012

Mediterranean Rosemary Bean Dip

Mediteranean Rosemary Bean Dip

Have you ever Googled eating healthy? There are guidelines and “so-called” experts across the globe with varying ideas of what eating healthy really means. As I clicked through the articles, I found someone who was upset that McDonald’s was putting apple slices in their toddlers happy meal (too nutritious?) and those who think you shouldn’t be taking your children to McDonald’s in the first place. I must admit that I am more on the don’t-eat-fast-food-and-don’t-feed-it-to-your-children bandwagon. I’m also the freak who on the rare occasion walks into a fast food restaurant, and asks for their nutrition information before considering placing my order. But a five-hour drive on a sparse highway in the USA with rest stops only every 30 miles, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything but McDonald’s. Truth be told, a McDonald’s softserve is one of my guilty pleasures – at only 150 calories per serving and 3.5 grams of fat, it’s a pretty good sweet treat choice. Do you think they put that pink slime in the ice cream too?

CNN had a very disturbing article about a phobia called orthorexia. The term was coined by Steven Bratman, M.D. in 1997 and was described as a “fixation on eating proper food.” This takes us in the complete opposite direction of our greater population of over-eaters of bad food in this country. No one can argue that the obesity rate in our country is out of control, especially in our children. But is it possible there is too much information available on how to eat healthy? I don’t think it’s that complicated, and I believe there needs to be a simple balance. Denying ourselves entire food groups or the occasional ice cream, only makes me cranky. I’m no expert, but I believe in a diet filled with whole grains, lots of fresh in-season vegetables and fruits, and lean meats. Avoid artificial sweeteners, processed foods and excess sugar. And let’s not forget the most important part, get your butt off the couch and move your body. Exercise is key.

How I ended up on this healthy eating tangent, I just don’t know. It could be my body dysmorphic personality that haunts me or my addiction to lentils and kale, but I think this white bean dip is a great example of a healthy choice that your whole family will love. Made with nutrient rich beans, garlic and olive oil, this dip is super versatile. It’s delicious served with pita chips, sliced cucumber and olives as an appetizer. I often serve this schmeared inside a warm pita with grilled chicken or lamb and a greek salad for the perfect dinner. This recipe doubles or cuts in half nicely, too.

This is a great substitute for hummus, perfect for my sesame allergic friends out there – you know who you are… wink wink.

INGREDIENTS (Makes about 2 cups of dip)

  • 2 – 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large clove of garlic, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, loosely packed
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending how spicy you like it)
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil (enough to make it creamy)

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor, except the olive oil. I use an 11 cup machine. Pulse the machine to blend the ingredients. Turn the machine on and slowly stream in the olive oil with the machine running. You want the dip to have a creamy consistency. Stop the machine when it looks nice and smooth (you might not need all of the oil) and taste for reseasoning. We like it spicy. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to make the heat level the way you like it. Enjoy!

* This dip will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, so it can definitely be made the day before entertaining. 

April 12, 2012

The Perfect Panini

I’ve committed a lot of time to the sandwich at 4plates. Creating unique sandwiches, finding ways to use leftovers to make a sandwich, talking about sandwiches, and of course, eating sandwiches. I’ve declared that the sandwich is my husband’s favorite food group, and other than the banana, it could quite possibly be the perfect food. According to Alan Davidson’s Oxford Food Companion, the origin of the sandwich is generally attributed to the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu. He was said to have eaten his food in the form of a sandwich to avoid having to stop playing cards. Meat tucked between two pieces of bread, kept the cards free from meaty, greasy fingers… lovely.

The sandwich has evolved far beyond the Earl’s slab of meat on bread. Almost every culture has their own version of the sandwich. It’s no surprise that the Italians have perfected the marriage of meat and bread with their panini sandwich. Whether made on a hearty ciabatta, perfectly baked focaccia or slices of Italian boule, it’s fantastico!  We received a panini press years ago as a gift, and I have to admit we use it often. It makes the insides deliciously melty, and the bread gets that perfect grilled crunch. No oil or butter needed on the outside of the bread, eliminating unnecessary calories. I have a Delonghi machine, but there are many brands & styles available. For around fifty bucks, you can get yourself a nice electric panini press.



  • Sliced grilled chicken breast
  • Sliced Granny Smith apples
  • Brie cheese
  • Whole grain baguette
  • A schmear of Dijon



  • Sliced ham (Serrano or I use Boars Head Rosemary Ham)
  • Manchego Spanish cheese, sliced
  • Fresh rosemary (just a few chopped leaves sprinkled inside the sandwich)
  • Fig preserves
  • Hearty sliced Italian boule or other rustic bread



  • Sliced fresh mozzarella
  • Whole basil leaves
  • Roasted red peppers (jarred is fine here, just pat them dry before putting on the sandwich)
  • Sliced Italian bread
  • Drizzle of good balsamic vinegar


Many a panini has been made in our kitchen. Here is a list of a some delectable ingredients that you can put between a hearty hunk of bread. It’s like the old Chinese restaurant menus… pick one from column A, two from column B and pray the fortune cookie you picked has you winning the lottery.

MEATS: Prosciutto, capicola, spicy soppressata, grilled chicken & good quality sliced turkey

CHEESES: Goat cheese, smoked or fresh mozzarella, super sharp provolone, fontina, Manchego & brie

VEGGIES & GREENS: Arugula, baby spinach, swiss chard, kale, artichokes, sliced avocado & of course, tomatoes

GRILLED VEGETABLES: Eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, Portobello mushrooms, yellow squash & red onions

SPREADS & SAUCES: Basil or sun-dried tomato pesto, fig or raspberry preserves, olive tapenade, balsamic drizzle & Sriracha for that spicy kick

* Don’t forget you can sweeten it up too. Nutella and banana could be the best combo yet!

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