They say that necessity is the mother of invention (“they”, of course, meaning Plato). I’m no innovator, but I do find it necessary to replicate delicious restaurant meals at home on a regular basis. Cue my first visit to a new restaurant in town, Arsaga’s Church & Center. The concept in this cozy spot is toasts and coffee drinks. We sampled a few items on the menu, but the one that stuck with me the most is “The Last Toast” (all of the menu items have wonderful, punny names). The Last Toast features white bean tahini spread, roasted zucchini or boiled egg (I went roasted zucchini, obviously), green garlic sauce, and chili flakes. Here’s the original:
It was such a unique combination of flavors that I couldn’t get it out of my head after we finished our breakfast. As luck would have it, our next stop after a breakfast at Arsaga’s was the grocery store. We co-hosted a wedding shower for some wonderful friends over the weekend, and I was in charge of the food. At the grocery store, I made a few last-minute changes to the shower menu to accommodate a variation on The Last Toast to try out at the party. I added the ingredients for my chimichurri to the cart, plus a baguette, some chevre, zucchini, and my idea to replicate the white bean tahini spread. My version:
The spread is fantastic as a base for crostini as pictured above. It’s also great as a dip with vegetables or pita chips. I made another batch after the party (addiction is real, people), which I thinned with additional olive oil to use as a salad dressing. Note that the thinned white bean tahini spread is drizzled on top of the vegetables. Not to be confused with the other similar ingredients in the same bowl (hummus served in the middle of the salad and roasted chickpeas on the side…See what I mean about my tendency to fixate on a flavor).
My version was not as much an attempt to perfectly replicate the Arsaga’s experience (how utterly unoriginal!) as it was inspiration for something similar that I could make quickly to feed a crowd. So don’t worry, Arsaga’s, I’ll be back for more of the real thing, but in the meantime, here’s a fantastic, easy, recipe for an herby, tangy white bean tahini spread.
White Bean Tahini Spread
You will need:
- 2 cups white beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Up to 1/4 cup olive oil
- Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Use olive oil to thin the mixture as desired.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.