I love potatoes! Whether they be white, sweet, or purple; smashed, whipped, or fried….you name it and if its made with a spud I’m a fan.
That said, I do recognize their nutritional challenges (especially white varieties), and often lament the fact that the creamy dollop of mashed potatoes smiling back at me from the center of my plate, offer little in the way of nutrition, save the dairy fat brought by the cream and butter that make them so luscious. Over the years I’ve made efforts to augment the whipped goodness that often anchors my meals by either adding healthier veggies to my spuds to make them more nutritious, or by replacing them altogether with a tasty alternative.
Early experiments included replacing up to half of the potatoes in the mash with celeriac (celery root) or parsnips, both of which add a subtle sweetness and whip up super smooth. After a while I decided to occasionally replace the spuds entirely with these white, creamy imposters, and for a change of pace have been known to add some sweet, roasted carrots to the purée…….such a rebel, I know.
These days I am much more likely to cook and blitz some infinitely more nutritious heirloom beans in place of spuds as they offer a great variety of flavors, and can be creatively dressed up with fresh herbs, cheeses, and infused oils just like potatoes (and if you must, cream and butter too!). As a bonus, leftovers are really easy re-purposed as a warm or cold dip for crudité, a delicious sandwich spread, or as a topping for bruschetta along with some sliced of prosciutto and maybe some olives.
Try doing that with day-old mashed potatoes.
A bean purée is hardly more work than mashed spuds, though you do need to plan at least a day in advance to soak the beans overnight. Cook them simply with a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, and maybe some chunks of onion and carrot in the pot, then once done, scoop them into the hopper of a food processor for a little quick spin of love. Season with salt and pepper and add back a little of their cooking water for a fairly simple puree, or do as I did here and add a few ounces of a soft, goat cheese and some basil oil for a blast of Provencal goodness. I served this purée under a piece of roast cod, and along with some haricot vets, and chopped roasted tomatoes, oil cured black olives, and capers for nicoise-like feast.
I was happy to recently find a great local source for my beans, Baer’s Best Beans in South Hamilton, MA, and am already thinking that the next time I make this bean purée I’ll reach for my favorite local blue cheese from Great Hill Dairy in Marion, MA. and serve it along side a perfectly grilled steak.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 cups cooked small white beans, such as Flageolet (or a good quality canned bean if you're in a time pinch)
- 3 tablespoons EVOO or good quality infused oil (I used basil oil here)
- 2-3 ounces soft goat cheese (or other easily melting cheese)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- bean cooking liquid as needed to thin the consistency of the purée to your liking
- Soak 1 pound of beans overnight in water to cover by 3 inches. Drain, then add the beans to a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of fresh water. Toss in 4-5 crushed cloves of garlic and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until just done, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Measure off about 1 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve. Drain the beans, discarding the bay leaf, then measure out 2 cups to make the purée. Put the balance of the beans in the fridge to use within a week, or freeze for later use.
- Place the 2 cups of beans in the hopper of a processor along with the cheese, EVOO, and salt and pepper. With the processor running, pour enough of the cooking water through the feed tube to render the beans creamy and smooth. Test for seasoning, adding more cheese, salt, or pepper to taste.