Crudites with White Bean Dip

Crudites with White Bean Dip from Rachel Allen's Home CookingSeasonal raw vegetables, served as an appetiser or hors d'oeuvre, are lovely at any time and a great antidote to heavy food over Christmas. “Especially,” says Rachel Allen in her book Home Cooking (HarperCollins, hardback €19.99), “When there is a tasty dip to indulge in.” She gives lots of ideas, including tapenade, savoury nut butter, guacamole and tzatziki; most – like this versatile white bean dip – are suitable for vegetarians. The dip can also be spread on bruschetta or a piece of crispbread, or warmed up and served with a steak or chops. Keeps in the fridge for up to two days.
Makes as many as you like.

Vegetable choices:

Tomatoes, whole if small or halved or quartered if large
Cauliflower, broken into florets
French beans, mangetout or sugar snap peas
Cucumber, cut into sticks
Carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
Celery, trimmed and cut into sticks
Spring onions, trimmed and cut in half
Chicory, broken into leaves
Red, green or yellow peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
Radishes, trimmed.

Prepare the vegetables and arrange them on individual plates or one big platter with small bowls of one or more dips alongside.

White Bean Dip - Makes about 300g (l1oz)

1 x 400g tin cannellini or butter beans, drained, or 12 5g (41/2oz) dried beans, soaked and cooked (method given in book)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Place the beans in a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and mustard and whizz until coarsely chopped. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender or mash the cooked beans with a fork before stirring in the other ingredients. Add the olive oil and blend for a few seconds more.

2 Season to taste with salt and pepper and little more lemon juice, if you like. Pour into a serving dish to use straight away, or place the fridge to use later.

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