Romanian White Bean Dip with Caramelized Onion… “Fasole Batuta cu Ceapa Calita”

Romanian White Bean Dip with Caramelized Onion… “Fasole Batuta cu Ceapa Calita”… using a 1 pound bag of beans to make 2 dishes( Part 2).  I loved this dip while growing up. And lately I’ve had a real craving for it. I quickly realized I didn’t have any dried beans in the house, so I made a special trip to the supermarket. Bought a small bag, and got to work. I knew I wasn’t going to use all the beans to make the dip, so I decided to make the Romanian Vegetarian Bean Soup I posted recently.  This is the second part  to the bean bag:)….
Ever since I came across the idea of brining my beans before cooking, I’ve never looked back. I love the flavor the salt imparts to the beans…. so I ended up doing that for the 2 recipes I made, the bean soup and this dip. It really isn’t mandatory to brine the beans. My mom never brined her beans and her dishes always came out delicious. So in actuality, you could choose to skip the brining, and just soak the beans normally…. be it overnight, quick soak, etc. But when it comes to cooking the beans, you want to cook them until they are quite soft, otherwise the bean dip won’t be so smooth.
It’s interesting but I’ll take this dip over hummus any day… I may be biased, but I think hummus comes in second place to this Romanian bean dip:). This dip is truly delicious! I’m thinking it probably has to to with the fact that the beans get cooked in a flavorful broth… with onion, carrots and celery(sometimes parsnip), and that just brings in a ton of flavor. Not to mention the caramelized onion and tomato paste/paprika topping that takes the dip over the top. Yum! In any case, if you love bean dips, you may want to give this dip a try. Hope you enjoy…    
Tip: This dip (you can skip the onion mixture) can be used as a base for broiled/grilled meats or fish… just slather some on a plate and place your meat of choice on top, add a side of vegetables/salad and you have a restaurant-style dish.  Or serve with some sausage and sauerkraut salad for a true Romanian dish.
You will need:
Cooking Beans:  
Important:You will only be using  2 cups cooked beans for the dip…  the bean stock and remainder of the beans can be made into a bean soup. Or you can just double the bean dip recipe below, and keep the stock for another use.

2 1/2 cups dried white beans beans(navy or northern)
4 cups water
2 TBS kosher salt

Vegetables: for cooking beans and making a bean stock
enough water to cover beans 3 inches above
2 celery stalks
1 onion
1 bay leaf
2 carrots
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 parsnip, if desired( I didn’t have)

To Make Dip: You can likewise use canned beans, if you prefer to make a quicker dip, but it won’t have that extra flavor when cooked with the vegetables and done from scratch.

2 cups soft-cooked white beans from above  
3 TBS olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
3-4 TBS bean stock, or even water
salt to taste
Caramelized Onion Topping:
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2-3 TBS olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on top
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp hot smoked paprika(or regular smoked, or sweet)
salt as needed
1. Soak beans overnight: Place beans in a large bowl, add water and salt. 
2. Next day: Rinse beans and drain.  
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Cook Beans: I cooked my beans in a pressure cooker for about 15 minutes(to make soft beans), but you can cook the beans in a regular pot if you like…. adjusting time.

1. Place drained and soaked beans in a large pot, and cover with about 3 inches of water.
2. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and parsnip(if using). Bring water to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer… cook beans until soft. This will take about 12-15 minutes in a pressure cooker or about 45 minutes or so in a regular pot.  
3. Strain stock and remove vegetables. Set stock aside to make bean soup or reserve for another use. 
4. Remove 2 cups worth of beans  to make dip… and 1/4 cup bean stock. The rest of the beans you can place back in the strained bean broth and proceed to make bean soup.   
Note: If you don’t want to make a bean soup and want to use all the cooked beans to make a dip, then freeze the stock for another use and double the recipe for the dip. 

Make Dip:
1. Place 2 cups cooked beans in a food processor. 
2. Add garlic, olive oil and bean stock. Process until super smooth a couple of minutes. If bean dip is too thick ,adjust it by adding a bit more stock, 1 TBS at a time. Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Remove bean puree and place in a shallow bowl, and spread it out a bit. Set it aside.
Make Onion Topping:
1. In a skillet,  heat oil and add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and cook on med/low, stirring every so often, until onion caramelizes and gets golden brown. This can take about 10 minutes or so.
2. Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika to the onion, combine and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so… you can add another tablespoon of oil, if too dry to loosen the onion mixture up a bit.
Assemble Dip:
1. Place the hot onion mixture in the center of the bean dip and drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil over it.
2. Serve at room temperature… with crusty bread, flatbread, etc.  

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