white bean paste with ciabatta bread (#5)

this bean paste, similar to hummus, is a cheap and very impressive, not to mention delicious and totally healthy starter! it's made with tinned gigantic white kidney beans from the delicatessen (these ones were called bianchi di spagna). just take the biggest ones you can find.

you can dip sticks of raw carrot, peppers and courgette in it, spread it on bread, stuff vegetables with it, eat it as a side dish to fish or steak.

serves 4


for the bean paste

for the ciabatta


  1. make the ciabatta dough by mixing all the ingreidients and then adding enough warm water to make a very sticky batter-like dough. knead for 5 minutes (if you haven't got a machine for this, it will be a very messy job) and leave in a warmish place to prove.
  2. in the meantime make the bean paste. chuck all the ingredients into a food mixer or whiz them up with a hand mixer to make a smooth paste. taste and adjust salt, lemon juice and garlic to your own taste. cover and put to one side. (it's nicer at room temerature so i don't put it in the fridge at this stage. having said that, beans do go off quite quickly, so don't leave it out all night.)
  3. when the dough has risen to twice its size, pour it out onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. it should be a thick liquid consistency that settles into a 1.5 cm high lake in your tray. leave it again to rise.
  4. heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  5. about an hour later the ciabatta should have formed a sort of skin and swelled well. brush it with olive oil. bake in the middle of the oven.
  6. when the ciabatta has turned golden brown: about half an hour, take it out and leave on a wire rack to cool.

you could try making this paste with lentils or other beans. play around with the spicing as much as you like.

if you want to give the bread some more flavour, you can sprinkle it with red chilis, rosemary or oregano sprigs or course salt. press well into the top.

because it's so flat, the ciabatta is fantastic for making warm sandwiches. cut into big triangles and split through the middle. fill with roasted aubergine slices, goats cheese and maybe some raw ham. toast in a sandwich toaster or dry-fry in a heavy skillet on both sides till the cheee starts to melt. slip in some rocket leaves and tuck in.

source: jane's recipes