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Kidney Bean Dip

When I was growing up, my family had a pretty tried and true entertaining food repertoire.  For cakes we had German coffee or apple and banana shortcake for picnics, and carrot or devil’s food for parties; for salads we had potato, green bean or grated carrot with sultana; and for dips etc we had paté, red salmon and sour cream dip, and this kidney bean dip; pictured here along with harissa marinated olives, and my pickled green olives marinated in lemon and olive oil.

add beans, oregano and tomato paste

Many of my mother’s recipes that I’ve posted here were helpfully written down, so all I had to do was re-test and make the method more user friendly – given that for quite a few cakes the entire method I have written down consists of ‘creaming method 45min 180C’.  This recipe however, was always thrown together by eye, and on top of that, when I was asking her about the recipe before making this batch last month, she denied all knowledge 🙂  so this has been very much a process of recreating a taste from memory…

cook until thick and onion tender

Mexican style bean dips seem quite common, but the flavouring in this is closer to Italian, with garlic, tomato paste, and lots of oregano.  Of course, then you add yoghurt, so it’s really a bit of a hybrid, but an absolutely delicious one, with a rich savoury flavour from the beans, tomato and garlic, mellowed by the tang of the yoghurt.  You can make it either smooth or chunky, and it’s lovely as a dip with corn chips and/or celery/carrot/capsicum sticks; and also as a sandwich spread.

mash roughly

Kidney bean dip

  • 200g dried kidney beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 large sprigs fresh oregano
  • 140g tomato paste
  • 1/2 c Greek yoghurt
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the kidney beans in a large bowl with about twice their volume of water.  Leave to soak for at least eight hours or overnight.  If you’re in a hurry, cover with boiling water and soak for an hour, and if guests are arriving in less than an hour I suggest tinned – I’d guess two or three tins would be the equivalent, but it’s not a recipe where quantities are critical.

Once soaked, drain the beans and put in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf.  Cover with fresh water by a few centimetres, and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer until completely tender – so you can easily crush a bean between finger and thumb.  This could take from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending how old the beans are, so check them regularly.

Once cooked, drain the beans, reserving about a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  While the beans are cooking, dice the onion and crush the garlic.  Pick the leaves off the oregano sprigs, and chop finely.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy frying pan.  Cook the onion until softened and becoming translucent, then add the garlic and oregano, and cook another couple of minutes.  Add the tomato paste, beans, and reserved liquid, and stir to combine.  If using tinned beans, rinse them well and add here with 1/4 cup water.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer about 10 minutes until everything is tender and well combined.  You can add a small amount of additional water if the beans are sticking.

Now, if you want the dip chunky, and retaining some texture, you can roughly mash the mixture in the pan with a potato masher or fork.  If you’d like it smooth, let the mixture cool before pureeing in a food processor – your choice…

Either way, allow to cool completely before stirring in the yoghurt and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve with bread, corn chips or vegetable crudite.

One year ago: Walnut-choc-banana biscuits

For the other side of the world

Six months ago: My favourite shortbread