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 really simple and nourishing. We love the complexity of flavors that comes from the roasted garlic (a whole head’s worth!) and aromatic sage. Inspired by a dip from Deborah Madison's incredible Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, you can take it so many directions: 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.

Featured bean: Cannellini

Other beans to try: Alubia

Take 'em from dried to cooked with our guide

Print recipe here


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


  • 1 lb dried beans
  • Aromatics: 5 garlic cloves, a handful of sage leaves, 1-2 bay leaves 
  • 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 with the aromatics 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 bake until soft, ~45 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the soft garlic.

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

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

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