Abby Hudnall of Charlotte writes: “We frequently go to Mezzanotte at the corner of Sharon Amity and Providence Road. I would love to have the recipe for the white bean ‘relish’ served with bread at dinner. It has olive oil, some herbs and something that gives it a kick. It is so good.”
When I cook something new, I like to look at the recipe to get a general idea of how it’s going to play out. So when Mezzanotte sent me the recipe for the Tuscan Bean Dip, I was slightly apprehensive as I couldn’t picture the end result.
There are large quantities of some bold flavors – red onions, garlic, basil, red pepper. And then there are the 3 cups of extra-virgin olive oil. But the further I got into making the dip, the more I got it: The cannellini beans (white Italian kidney beans) are both a blank canvas and a culinary sponge. They come to the table with little more than a mellow flavor of their own, and they absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.
Initially, I added only 2 cups of the olive oil. And that’s when the light bulb totally went on. I realized the oil was meant to transfer the flavors of the rest of the ingredients into the beans. That third cup of oil that I had been hesitant to add meant not only would everything get to luxuriate in this green-tinted nectar, but there would be enough oil to dredge hunks of warm bread through.