Appetizers, Grains, Breads & Legumes
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White Bean Dip with Three Lemons

On a recent trip the farmers market, I started exploring a stall filled with potted plants: mostly flowers and herbs.  I found myself sooooo wishing I had a home garden.  How many times have I had to pay $2.99 for a bunch of fresh rosemary or thyme for a recipe, only to use a few pieces and have to discard the rest, only to have to buy it again a month later for another recipe.  If only I had a garden!  Then I could plant all of the herbs I wanted and enjoy them whenever I needed them with a quick snip outside.  Nothing would be wasted.  Meanwhile, I have wanted to buy lemon thyme for a long time.  It always smells so bright and sweet and filled with citrus joy.  I knew I wanted to find a good recipe that would let it shine.  So when I spotted the lemon thyme plant, I thought: I can do this.  I will try to keep this pot, this living thing, in my one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.  The plant would have to make do with some limited light though the windows.  What was the worst case?  It would die?  I decided to live with the risk.  I bought the lemon thyme plant.

Two weeks later, the plant is still alive and two wonderful meals have benefited.  The first were simple roasted chicken breasts with bunches of lemon thyme, salt, and pepper tucked under the crisp skin.  Lovely.  The second was this recipe I created, white bean dip with ‘three’ lemons.  Three lemons meaning lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon thyme.  The dip was silky and sung of lemony sweetness.  So simple and healthy to boot, I’m sure to make this again.  I wonder what other ideas will come to me as I watch my lemon thyme plant smile out the window.

Here she is, Miss Lemon Thyme.  Still smiling.

White Bean Dip with Three Lemons


1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and strained
1 lemon
5 sprigs of lemon thyme, thick stems discarded
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt & white pepper


1.  Zest the lemon and place zest in a small bowl.  With that same lemon, cut it in half, and squeeze the juice out of one half into the bowl of zest.  Save the other half of the lemon for another use.

2.  Place the beans in a food processor with the lemon juice and zest, lemon thyme, and olive oil.  Puree until very smooth.  If the texture appears chunky at all, add cold water, 1 tsp. at a time, until a smooth consistency is achieved.  Season with salt and white pepper.  (You could use black pepper here instead, though I prefer white pepper in this case as the taste is smoother and smokier and there are no black specks discoloring the creamy white dip.)

3.  Serve with flatbreads, crostini, or crudites.

Serves 6


  1. Chris in Birmingham says

    Gorgeous photos, Nancy – What did you shoot those with? I guess I take for granted that I have a gorgeous herb garden in back of my house at the community garden that Scott keeps up for our neighborhood. This post really makes me appreciate it! We LOVE white bean dip – I'm trying this recipe this weekend! THANKS. Hope you guys are well.

  2. Olive to Cook says

    Hi Chris! I have a Canon EOS Rebel T1i . A community garden sounds glorious… us city folks are definitely challenged that way. Hope you enjoy the recipe! Hi to Scott for us.xoxox, Nancy

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