Friday, February 5, 2010

Recipe: Maritime Bean Dip (and bonus Pizza)

Jacob's cattle, soldier and yellow eye are three varieties of bean that are commonly grown in the Maritimes of Canada. If you buy one of these types of beans at the supermarket, it will in all likelihood come with a recipe on the bag, a recipe that never varies. It is Molasses Baked Beans. It is always, always Molasses Baked Beans, as if no Maritimer has ever done anything else with a bean.

That seems a shame to me, not to mention boring, so I have taken it upon myself to provide the bean-buying world with other things to do with a bag of yellow eye or soldier or Jacob's cattle beans, starting with this tasty bean dip that may, if you are so inclined, be made entirely with Maritime-grown ingredients.

The Dip


  • 1 cup yellow eye, soldier or Jacob's cattle beans
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Soak the beans 4 to 6 hours or overnight in 3 cups of water. If you're not good at advance planning, you can use the quick-soak method: bring water and beans to a boil, cover, turn off heat and let sit for an hour.

Whichever soaking method you use, once the soaking is complete, bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer until soft--from 30 minutes to an hour.

Drain beans, place in a bowl and mash. (If you're feeling lazy or have arthritis, use a blender or food processor.) Mince or press garlic and add to mashed beans. (For extra points, use garlic grown in the Maritimes. We have many fine organic farmers ready to supply you. Points will be deducted for garlic that comes from China.) Add cider vinegar, preferably made in the Maritimes. I use Boates vinegar from Nova Scotia. (You can substitute lemon juice, but do note that lemons don't grow this far north. Points will be deducted if your lemons come from Argentina.) Add remaining ingredients. Go to the head of the class if your peppercorns were also grown in the Maritimes. I have yet to come across local pepper, but I know it must exist. I've seen pepper grown in Quebec, and that's the same climate.

Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Yummy, right? And you can't spread molasses baked beans on a cracker.

If you want to get fancy, you can use this bean dip in a pizza. Here goes.

The Pizza


  • Pizza dough, enough for 12-inch pie (to make your own, see recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Maritime Bean Dip
  • A few handfuls of spinach or other leafy green vegetable (precision is not vital here)
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, 400 if you have a black pizza pan. Oil a 12-inch pan and flatten the pizza dough until it fits the pan; feel free to get fancy and work it between your hands in midair like the pros. It's not that hard, though you toss it into the air at your own risk. Place in pan.

It's not absolutely necessary, but if you want to ensure as crispy a crust as possible, bake the untopped dough for 8 minutes. Spread the bean dip over the dough.

If you are using spinach, wash, spin dry and slice up. You don't need to cook it. If you're using a tougher vegetable like kale or cabbage, you will probably want to sauté it a little first. Sprinkle the vegetable on top of the bean dip.

Top with the grated cheese. As always, extra points for cheese made in the Maritimes; you might want to try some of that asiago that they sell at Aura Foods in Fredericton.

Pop in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pizza Dough

There are probably a lot of people who have never made their own pizza dough and would be amazed to discover that such an option is open to them. That's a pity, for although it takes time and planning, it's not hard, and kneading the dough is fun and good for stress release.


  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour, preferably whole grain
  • 1 tbsp. oil

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the water and let sit 10 minutes. Here's a tip: buy yeast by the jar instead of in those silly little packets that come in strips. The packets may be convenient (it's just sooo hard to use a measuring spoon after all) but they're much more expensive, and if you do any amount of baking you're just wasting your money. Plus they constitute wasteful packaging and produce more garbage. Even if you don't do that much baking, jarred yeast will keep a long time if you store it in the fridge.

While the yeast is doing its thing, mix together the flour and salt. When the yeast is done, add the yeast mixture to the flour along with the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water and the oil. (I have a confession to make: I use olive oil. If I knew of any local oil appropriate to the task, I would try it instead. Actually, I'm not aware of any cooking oil being made in the Maritimes.)

Mix, gather into a ball and knead until smooth. If you knead dough frequently, you will get to know the feel of sufficiently-kneaded dough. It is a satisfying moment.

Oil a bowl, stick the ball of dough into it and turn once to oil the ball on both sides. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place. If you're using white flour you can expect the dough to double, but with whole grain flour the rise is slightly less. No worries; it will still be delicious.

1 comment:

James said...

Yummy, and I should know! :)

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