As a nearly instant snack, hors d'oeuvre, or side dish, I love these beans. Pureed to a cream in moments, lifted out of the "cheap and cheerful" category by warmed allspice, pepper and garlic, they honor the "pâté" title. Smear, dip or dollop them on any carrier you'd like -- bread, raw vegetables, and especially on the Middle Eastern cracker bread called Lavosh.
Cook to Cook: Substitute any beans for the pintos -- black, chickpeas, anything with good flavor. And of course, any home cooked bean would be stellar.
1. Combine the onion and vinegar in a small bowl and let them marinate 20 to 30 minutes.
2. In a food processor puree together the pinto beans and 60-Second Allspice-Pepper-Garlic Oil until smooth.
3. Stop the machine. Stir in the onions and their juices and the parsley. If the pâté seems dry, blend in a little water. Season to taste with salt and more pepper if you'd like. Add more oil or vinegar to taste.
4. Pile in a crock or bowl, swirl the top with the back of a spoon and scatter a few parley leaves over it.
The beans and spices mellow and meld with several hours in the fridge. They'll keep there for about 4 days. Serve them at room temperature.
Dal with Onion and Popped Mustard Seeds: Turn the puree into a main dish by warming it and topping with browned onion and spicy, popped mustard seeds. It's a topping used in India to finish the lentil/bean stew called dal. As you heat up mustard seeds, they pop, so have a lid handy to quickly cover the pan. Serve the dal with naan or other flat bread, and a chopped cucumber salad dressed with yogurt, chile and mint.
Top one recipe of warmed Pinto Bean "Pâté," (which you have spread on a plate, making a crater in the middle), with a spiced topping made by heating 3 to 4 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a medium onion cut into thin slices and a generous pinch of salt. 1 teaspoon bruised whole cumin seeds, and about 2 teaspoons dark mustard seeds. Cook, stirring until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Cover the pan until the popping stops. Immediately scrape the onions and spices onto the beans. Scatter with coriander leaves and tuck pieces of the bread around it.
This recipe appears in Eating In with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Issue 1, which is available as an e-book.
Richard Wrangham, a professor at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire, studies the role of cooking in human evolution. "Once you start thinking about the importance of cooking -- its supply of energy, its strange distribution compared to natural foods -- it's bound to have affected our evolution hugely, our behavior, our society, our cognition, all sorts of features about us," he says.