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Cannellini Bean Dip With Pan-Fried Mint

This dip makes for a sensational hors d'oeuvre or antipasto.
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Cannellini beans are incredibly soft when cooked, which is why they lend themselves so perfectly to dips. Here the somewhat bland beans are puréed with garlic and lemon juice -- then, for a major flavor boost, topped with pan-fried fresh mint. (And does this dip ever turn out flavorful!)

Serve this robust dip with fresh bread slices, croutons, crackers, endive and radicchio Treviso leaves, or raw vegetable sticks. It makes for a sensational hors d'oeuvre or antipasto.

Cannellini Bean Dip with Pan-Fried Mint

Serves 4
Active time: 15 min

For the pan-fried mint
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves - large leaves torn in half

For the dip
3 cups cooked cannellini beans (or navy beans) - well drained
1 large garlic clove - skinned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Step 1: Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and mint leaves. Sauté until the leaves are crisp and dark green, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Transfer to a small bowl and add the balance of the olive oil. Set aside.

Step 2: Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a serving bowl. Make a well in the center of the dip, pour the fried mint and its oil inside, and serve.

Cook's note: The dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.