It's appetizer season! If there is a food item that brings people together better than an app, I can't think of one. Generally pretty tasty and satisfying, I feel like appetizers are often the best part of a meal. Apps run the range from pretty healthy, to pretty terrible, and everywhere in between. The Blooming Onion might serve its purpose somewhere, but not here...
The good news is it is generally pretty easy to make healthy appetizers that taste delicious. It’s even better when they are easy to make and look fancy. While there is generally no nutrient prescription when it comes to that first course, I personally believe something that is relatively high in protein is nice. The protein curbs blood sugar stabilizes the mood and helps absorb alcohol if that is going down. You don't want to serve your guests apps that make you hangry! Which is actually really easy to do!
Enter beans, they satisfy easily and include everyone. Hummus, made from chickpeas is the most famous. (And if you didn't know hummus, can technically only be called "hummus" if made from chickpeas. All other versions would be classified as bean dips or purées.) Black bean dips, red lentil dips, easy bean dip, ultimate bean dip... there are many ways to make a dip with beans. But what about a bean pâté?! Somewhat sacrilege to the meatier version, but very, very tasty this recipe is something I believe would satisfy the pickiest of palates. And for serving?
We like endive. The little chicory lettuce that is one of our most glamorous options for winter greens. They often get a little rugged and overlooked at the supermarket so keep your eyes out for the fresh ones. They make a great "dipping tool" for just about anything, and they also help dress up presentations if you go that far. I dressed this version up with pomegranate seeds, fennel fronds and marinated tofu feta. (You could use regular feta as well).
Serve as you like with bread or crackers. The options are really endless.
It will also keep well in the refrigerator for about 4 days, so feel free to make ahead of time. Most of all, enjoy with friends and family!
RED BEAN, WALNUT, MISO PÂTÉ //
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup walnuts
2 tbsp white miso
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves black garlic (or 2 white garlic)
2 tsp thyme or 1 tbsp fresh
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted (optional)
Process beans and walnuts in the food processor. It will be a rough paste. Add in miso, lemon juice, black garlic, thyme and salt. Process until smooth, and taste! This is where you will add more salt or spice to your liking.
Lastly, add in the coconut oil and process to smooth. You want to add the coconut oil last so that the mixture doesn't get gummy. This ingredient is optional, but it will help give a more "pâté-like" texture after it has been refrigerated.
**A note on anti-bean hype**
If you've gotten this far, I have to emphasize my love for beans. There is so much hype out there regarding anti-nutrients, or the unhealthy effects of the lectins found in beans. If you pull back and look at the healthiest and longest lived cultures in the world, beans are always a part of their diet. This is enough for me. Doctors selling books or fads, can't escape the reality that beans have been a staple food for millions of people around the world.
I believe that the negative bean press has mostly come from the fact that beans are a food that cannot be eaten raw (and they can't, so please don't try). You can sprout beans and eat them that way- but I generally recommend cooking them. Canned beans are also a great way to get beans in your diet if you don't feel like cooking them. I always have several cans on hand because they are so convenient. And the good news is that canned beans are probably the lowest in lectins, because they have been cooked at high heat, and packed in water.
The starches and fibers in beans and are really important part of gut health. The unique makeup of beans - high protein and fiber - serves to feed our gut healthy bacteria and stabilize blood sugar. We live in a culture that eats a diet chronically low in fiber, and fiber is so important to our overall health. Skin health included!
And if you're worried about the toots? Fear not. I can personally attest to the fact that the more beans you eat, the less of that happens. I believe they have such a stigma because most of us are not familiar with eating such a highly nutrient dense food.