Roasted Portabella, Garlic, Feta and White Bean Dip

Roasted Portabella, Garlic, Feta and White Bean Dip (June 24, 2014)

If you've taken a drive through Kennett Square, Pa., your nose would tell you that we Baltimoreans live just south of mushroom country. Dubbed the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square produces 51 percent of the nation's mushroom crop-equaling over a million pounds of mushrooms each week.

Mushrooms grow all year round in long, narrow, windowless mushroom houses. While the odor isn't the greatest, it's a real treat to be so close to mushroom country: Those caps, bellas, and buttons don't have to travel far to make it to our plates.

This recipe features portabellas, which are simply mature crimini mushrooms. While they can be used for many dishes (served whole in a burger, diced up in pasta dishes, or roasted and eaten as a meaty side dish), their flavor, as well as their heft, should be celebrated. Roasting the bellas with garlic and shallots highlights the meaty mushroom while adding layers of flavor and richness.

This dip is quick and easy. The basic, wholesome ingredients make it a healthy dip option while still packing a flavor punch.

Roasted Portabella, Garlic, Feta and White Bean Dip

INGREDIENTS

4 portabella mushrooms, cleaned with stems and gills removed
2 shallots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 generous pinches of salt
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons good olive oil, divided (I get mine from the Breadery in Oella)
1 can (or 1 cup cooked) Great Northern beans, drained not rinsed
3 tablespoons feta cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Clean and cut portabella caps into thick slices, and then cut in half. Combine mushrooms, shallots, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and cracked black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes and place the roasted ingredients into a blender or food processor. Pulse while adding the third tablespoon of olive oil until combined.

Add the can of drained beans and feta cheese to the food processor and blend until creamy. At this point, you can leave the dip as chunky as you like or puree until smooth, like hummus.

Taste to see if any additional seasonings are needed. Serve immediately in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some feta cheese crumbles. This dip is delicious with celery or pita chips.

Make it your own-substitute goat cheese for feta cheese (or skip the cheese for a vegan option), adjust the garlic if you desire, drizzle with balsamic, or throw in some red pepper flakes or roasted jalapeños for heat. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6.