Skinny Dipping

Whereas most people treat bean dip as a condiment, in my eyes, it’s more often a main course. Perhaps it’s a habit that grew out of being relegated to only platters of raw veggies at many early family gatherings, when not a single prepared dish could be considered vegan even by the greatest stretch of the imagination. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because hummus is so damn good. Addictive, even. Once the plastic lid comes off that container, it’s hard to snap it back on until I’ve excavated the majority of its contents. Hummus has always been my dip of choice, given its prevalence all around the world and how tasty chickpeas are the begin with. Possessing a seemingly endless appetite for that little legume, it’s not unusual for me to clear out the entire grocery store shelf at times of sales, and there’s always one or two flavors on hand in the fridge.

Even the most fanatic hummus devote needs a break every now and then, though. For fear of turning into a chickpea myself, I do force myself to look else where for dipping enlightenment from time to time. Thus, my second favorite bean, the adzuki, enters the picture. Wonderfully creamy and generally agreeable in flavor, it opens the door to all sorts of new flavorful experiments.

Sticking with seasonings appropriate for this Japanese-grown bean, ginger, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms join this unique blend, and the results are just a bit tangy, spicy, and of course umami.  Lighter than your average bean dip thanks to the undetectable addition of zucchini, it’s the perfect summer spread, guaranteed not to weigh you down with tons of extra oil.

Hummus may be the top pick of all bean dips, but this version comes in at a close second, with a habit-forming flavor all its own. If there was ever a reason for me to forgo that classic chickpea spread, it could only be in favor of the adzuki dip instead!

Asian Adzuki Bean Dip

2 Cups Cooked Adzuki Beans*
1 Small Zucchini, Roughly Chopped
2 Fresh Shittake Mushroom Caps
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 – 1 Inch Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Roughly Chopped
1 Small Clove Garlic
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 – 3 Scallions
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt, to Taste

*I cook my beans either with a few bay leaves or a strip of kombu to reduce their -ahem- digestive difficulties.

Simply toss all of the above into your food processor or blender, and puree until smooth, pausing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Adjust seasonings to suit your tastes, and enjoy. It tastes even better if you can let it sit in the refrigerator overnight for the flavors to meld, but you might find it difficult to leave alone for so long!

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