White Bean Hummus with Garlic Confit

My paternal grandma was the first to introduce me to the wonderful world of Middle Eastern cuisine.  Many years later,  it was  a boy, Kaleel, who reignited my interest for the food...among other things.  We were young and, somewhat, in love. I was the ‘somewhat’ in that fleeting courtship.

Lest you think I'm the  proprietress of Heartbreak Hotel, I'll let you in on a secret, I'm actually highly sensitive—the type who'll cry over  tourism tv commercials. And if it's a local ad, well then I'm inconsolable.

No, I  liked Kaleel, who was a sweet, hopeless romantic,  frantically searching for his soul mate. Whereas my  interests, at that time, were fashion, friends, food and frolic. And the prospect of marriage somehow turned me into a tower of Jell-O.

Inevitably, the day finally came, when I carefully sidestepped his advances to fulfill my own search.  A search  of the bean dip variety—hummus, to be precise.

I'm in love with this stuff. And have always  preferred the less pungent taste of roasted garlic in my hummus.  So, while skimming through a cookbook recently,  my eyeballs landed on this tempting trifecta of whole garlic cloves, poached in olive oil and fresh herbs. And I fell, hard.

It still has the mellow flavor of roasted garlic, but with less waste. Plus the added bonus of a garlic and herb infused oil.  All this, with a sexy French accent.

Chef Al  and I suggest buying ready peeled garlic to double  up on the  recipe, without the angst of peeling a mountain of garlic cloves—which, you know I would do—but, I don't want to.

Use Confit  in pastas, vinaigrettes, pizzas,  toasted breads, and can't forget, hummus (following  Confit recipe).

Garlic Confit

3 garlic bulbs, stemmed and peeled (about 35 cloves)
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup olive oil
Salt  & freshly ground black pepper
2 stems fresh thyme, or 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Place garlic cloves, wine, ¼ cup water, and olive oil in a small skillet. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper. Tuck the herbs into the liquid, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer until the water and wine evaporate, and the cloves are soft and golden in color, 30 to 40 minutes.  Store in  a sterilized jar for 2 weeks. Makes 1 cup.
Adapted from: Crescent City Cooking, by Susan Spicer

In this hummus, creamy Italian cannellini beans step in for the chickpeas, and tangoes with the Confit, for an international affair fare I'd be willing to commit to, and  I do.

White Bean Hummus with Garlic Confit

½ cup Garlic Confit
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed *
½ cup Tahini
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons oil from Garlic Confit

Place all ingredients  in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Adjust with more salt or lemon juice to taste. Makes about 4 cups.

*I cooked my own cannellini beans  until tender, and reserved  some of the cooking water to thin out the hummus to desired consistency.

Hummus was served with homemade mini pitas, and crudités (carrot  leaves, jicama, celery and cucumber sticks).  I love tiny food, don't you?

Share it with your significant other. This way,  a breath mint will be deemed unnecessary.