Garlicky white bean spread

White bean spread recipe with Primary Beans Cannellini beans


This creamy spread has it all: it’s classy and decadent, but also crazy simple and nourishing. We love the complexity of flavors that comes from the roasted garlic (a whole head’s worth!) and aromatic sage, harmonized with a bright touch of lemon. This recipe comes from Deborah Madison, a chef who is famous for pioneering vegetable-forward cooking, and whose thoughtful bean recipes we’ve been cooking since the late 1990’s. It's delicious cold, hot, or at room temperature, so make it ahead of time and enjoy whenever the craving strikes! 

Which beans to use? Cannellini is our preference, but any white bean will do. 


The details

  • Serves: 4-6
  • Time: 55 minutes (plus bean cooking)
  • Cookware: small baking dish, food processor, bean cooking vessel of your choice

What you’ll need

The beans

  • 1 lb dried beans (makes ~7 cups cooked), flavored with 5 garlic cloves, 10 sage leaves, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1-½ tsp coarse salt

The rest

  • 1 whole head of garlic (outermost paper removed)
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon and lemon zest
  • Topping ideas: fresh thyme, crispy sage leaves, caramelized shallots 


Prepare the beans: Cook beans according to our guide in the cooking vessel of your choice. Once cooked, remove bay leaves and strain beans, reserving the broth. 

Roast the garlic: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the head of garlic with a little olive oil and put it in a small baking dish with ⅓ cup water. Cover and make until soft, ~45 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the garlic.

Puree and assemble: Add roasted garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and beans to the food processor. Puree and add enough bean broth until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add salt, lemon juice, and zest to taste. Serve hot, cold, or room temperature with toppings of your choice.

We imagine this with…

Enjoy on its own with crackers, toasts, or crudités. Serve alongside grilled steak or chicken. Slather on a good bread and top with bitter greens and roasted winter squash. 

Adapted slightly from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 1997).

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