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Source: Sunday Dinner

White Bean and Basil Puree with Peasant
The key to this easy appetizer is to use the best bread you can find. We like rosemary-scented peasant bread, but any freshly baked hearth bread works very nicely.
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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
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1 cup (1/2 pound) white canellini beans, dried
2 onions
6 cups water
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 sprigs fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste




1. To prepare the puree, pick over the beans, discarding any broken or misshapen ones, and rinse thoroughly. Put the beans in a large bowl, add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches and set aside to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
2. Drain the beans and transfer them to a stockpot. Quarter 1 of the onions, reserving the other for later use. Add the water, stock, quartered onion and parsley and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes until just tender, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Be careful not to overcook. You should be able to mash a bean against the room of your mouth but it should retain its general shape. Drain, discard the onions and parsley and set beans aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Chop the remaining onion, add it and the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes or until very tender. Add the drained beans, oregano, thyme and basil and cook over low heat, stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the beans are heated through. Set aside to cool.
4. Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the creme fraiche and pulse 8 or 9 times or until smooth. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth.
5. To prepare the toasts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
6. Brush the bread with the olive oil and lay on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
7. To serve, spread the puree generously on the toasts and top each with olive halves and basil leaves for garnish.

Note: Peasant bread, also called hearth bread or country loaves, is sold in many specialty stores, bakeries and gormet take-out shops. It is a free-form rounded loaf with a crisp crust and a soft, large-crumbed interior. If possible, buy the bread the day before you plan to use it because it does not keep well, although it will freeze up to a month.


Notes:
Ingredient #14-17 are for toasts.

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