Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens had this to sing about butter beans:
Some folks think that cornpone’s best
Some likes grits more than the rest
But if I was a man of means
I’d just want them good ol’ butter beans.
Well, you can have your yams
You can have your collard greens
But if you want to please little ol’ me
You better fix butterbeans.
She’s my little butterbean
The cutest thing you’ve ever seen
Oh my little Texas queen
She’s my little butterbean.
The little legume certainly seems to be a “good bean”–the sort that you can joke about all in good fun, because everybody knows it is downright likeable through and through.
These musical tributes all have to do with the butter bean in its pristine form. But a few additions to the unassuming bean will not detract from its good, simple nature and will give the butter bean admirer new occasions to appreciate it. In a spreadable form, sprinkled with dukkah (an Egyptian condiment of herbs, nuts, and spices) and eaten on pita chips, butter beans become an hors d’oeuvre.
When the pretty platter of Spreadable Butter Beans with Dukkah is placed before a guest, he may wish to second those immortal words of B-52: “Pass me a plate full, I’ll be grateful.”
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos
I. For the Spreadable Butter Beans:
- 2 cans of Butter Beans: Can sizes vary from country to country–cans between 14 – 16 ounces (or 400 – 450 grams) will be fine. Drain them and reserve the liquid.
- 4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
- 90 milliliters of Olive Oil (a scant 1/2 cup)
- 80 milliliters of the reserved Bean Liquid (a scant 1/3 cup)
- 1 teaspoon of Salt
- freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons of Parsley, flat-leaf or curly, either chopped or small whole leaves
- some more Olive Oil to drizzle over the platter of Spreadable Butter Beans
- a Food Processor
- a Platter for the finished Spreadable Butter Beans
1. Put the beans in the food processor with the garlic, lemon juice, half the olive oil, half the bean liquid, the salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
2. Turn on the processor and gradually add the rest of the olive oil. Then begin adding the rest of the bean liquid until the mixture forms a smooth purée. (The photographed beans are made with the full 80 milliliters of bean liquid, but given the slight variations in can sizes, a little less may be enough. Therefore, add the second half of the liquid gradually.)
3. Transfer the bean spread to a bowl; cover it. Set it aside at room temperature if it is being served fairly soon. If made a day ahead, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before serving.
4. A serving suggestion: Arrange the bean purée on a platter and make a wavy line pattern over its surface with the back of a spoon. Drizzle it with a little olive oil and sprinkle a few spoonfuls of dukkah over it. (The recipe for the dukkha is below.) Scatter some parsley on it as well and serve with triangles of pita bread or with the Pita Chips Herbed and Spiced also described below.
Other ways to eat Spreadable Butter Beans with Dukkah: On a picnic or…when spread inside a piece of pita and sprinkled with dukkah, the bean makes a very good sandwich.
- 70 grams of Hazelnuts, with skins (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Seeds
- 1 teaspoon of Fennel Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of Cumin Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of White Peppercorns
- 3 Tablespoons of Coriander Seeds
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of Sesame Seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika
- a rimmed Baking Pan
- a Cast-iron Pan or other heavy-bottomed Pan
- Mortar and Pestle: Crushing the nuts and seeds in a mortar with the pestle gives the dukkah its characteristic consistency. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, look around the kitchen for something that might substitute for a pestle–the round wooden knob on the end of a rolling pin, for example, such as the one used to muddle strawberries pictured in this previous dk post.
- 3 small Bowls to hold roasted seeds and a medium Bowl in which to mix the dukkah
1. Preheat the oven to 285 F. Spread the hazelnuts on the baking tray and toast them for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the sunflower seeds to the tray, keeping them separate from the hazelnuts, and toast both the hazelnuts and the sunflower seeds for 10 more minutes. Take them from the oven and cool them.
2. Heat the cast-iron pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and roast them for about 30 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and roast for another 30 seconds, or until they begin to pop. Pour the seeds into a small bowl and set them aside.
3. Add the peppercorns to the pan and heat them until they start to pop. Put them in a second small bowl.
4. Roast the coriander seeds until they begin to pop and place them in the third small bowl.
5. Rub the hazelnuts between the palms of your hands to skin them. Place the nuts in the mortar and crush them coarsely with the pestle. Pour them into the medium-sized bowl. Add the cumin and fennel seeds to the mortar and crush them lightly. Add them to the medium-sized bowl as well:
- 4 rounds of Pita Bread: between 7 and 8-inches in diameter
- 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons of Cumin Powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground Coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Cracked Black Pepper (aka Poivre Steak)
- 1 teaspoon of Oregano Leaves (not powdered)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
- 2 or more rimmed Baking Sheets: enough to hold the triangles of pita in a single layer
- a large Mixing Bowl
- a couple of Cooling Racks
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut each round of pita bread into 8 triangles.
2. Mix together in the bowl: the oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, coarse black pepper, oregano and salt.
3. Add the pita triangles to the bowl and mix them around to coat them in the oil/herb/spice blend.
4. Arrange the pieces of pita on the baking sheets in a single layer and bake them for 7 minutes. Turn them and bake them until they are golden–for perhaps 5 – 7 minutes more. Watch them during the second half of the baking so they don’t burn. Cool them on the racks.
A Note: Spreadable Butter Beans with Dukkah and Pita Chips Herbed and Spiced is one of the hors d’oeuvres in the Lunch Menu: Fish and Chicks: a Long, Leisurely Autumn Lunch. Both the bean spread and the dukkah are adapted from recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi that appeared in his column in The Guardian.
A Second Note: All of the songs mentioned in this post are available on YouTube. Click here to listen to Little Jimmy Dickens singing “Butter Beans”. The B-52’s “Butter Bean” is here on YouTube. Kevin Fowler’s recording of “Butterbean” is on YouTube here.