No, I’m not crazy for listing ten cloves of garlic in this smooth, silky and oh-so-savory bean dip. When you cook garlic very slowly in hot olive oil, the flavor becomes much milder than when eaten raw. Of course, if you want to use less garlic, you certainly can–that’s one of the benefits of home cooking–it’s personalized! When covered securely, this dip stays great sitting in the fridge for a few days, so it’s a dip that can take care of you and your guests all through the weekend. Wide strips of sweet red bell peppers and endive, standing decoratively in separate pretty dishes or stemmed glasses, make colorful (and nutritious!) accompaniments.
For something crisp and wonderful to use as a scoop, try some delicious Savory Garlic Pita Chips, which also can be made well ahead.
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Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and, when warm, add the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and reduce the heat to low. Sauté very gently, until tender but barely colored, 5 to 8 minutes, occasionally stirring with a flat edge spatula to redistribute. Stir in the thyme, parsley and red pepper flakes (if using), and let heat for a few seconds, just to release the herb’s flavor. Drag the pan to a cool burner. Pour the drained beans into the food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the sautéed garlic and any surrounding olive oil and the lemon juice. Purée until smooth. Add salt and black pepper to taste (mixture should be well seasoned).
Scrape the bean dip into a crock and chill, well covered, until 30 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh vegetables and Savory Garlic Pita Chips.
The bean dip can be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.