Sometimes eating light in January is just too darn hard. There's not a lot of green, not a lot of crunchy vegetables. So we broke down and bought a mess of expensive hot-house vegetables the other day, whittled baby carrots and all. The snap and crunch of carrots and cucumbers was so delicious (although those baby tomatoes were terribly anemic).
We needed something to round out our guilty winter vegetable plate, something that would make it a healthy appetizer or meal. Enter beans: our January hero. Beans are good year-round, thank God. Even when there's not a speck of green to be seen at the farmer's market, and no good tomatoes to be had for love or money, beans just keep on plugging. We love their versatility, their endless variety.
We also love how even the most seasonal of beans can be preserved for eating in the dark of winter. Fava beans are a hallmark of spring: bright green and fresh. When canned they lose that bright green color, unfortunately, but they still bear traces of that fresh spring taste.
We whizzed up a can of fava beans with a whole head of garlic, made mellow and sweet through roasting with olive oil and thyme. We added more thyme, too, and some yogurt for coolness, and a dip was born. This dip has a hearty texture with the look and feel of refried beans (minus the lard). But don't let that brown color fool you; there's still the sweetness and green taste of fava beans. It's like a little promise of summer, even when eaten with poor imitations of summer vegetables.
Fava Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic and Yogurt
about 2 cups
1 15 ounce can cooked fava beans
1 head roasted garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Drain the fava beans of most (but not all) their liquid. Squeeze the garlic out of each clove of roasted garlic, and combine with the beans in a food processor. Whiz until very smooth, then add the thyme leaves and yogurt, and whiz some more. If too thick, add a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
This dip is excellent right away, but it gets remarkably better after two days in the refrigerator. The garlic really blooms. Serve with crackers, toast, or vegetables.
Related: Mark Bittman's Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip
(Images: Faith Durand)