Last week, I’d finally had it with the old, super-tiny photo of me that I’d been using as my internet avatar and in the about section of this site. In the image, I’m not even looking at the camera, and my poor cropping job has severed my lower arms. Call me vain, but as someone who uses the word “I” about fifty times in every post, I can’t blame a reader for wanting to see an image, to figure out who that “I” person is. I certainly do when I visit other blogs.
Rima Campbell, photographer and founder of bkstyled – a site she started with the lovable mantra “because I believe in Brooklyn” – was kind enough to come by and take some new photos of me in my small kitchen, and that shoot has become this post, because I love how the images came out.
I decided to pose in front of my overstuffed bookshelf, a piece of furniture emblematic of the small kitchen’s perpetual war with clutter. The shelves once held actual books but now bear the weight of jars of flour and beans, my two LeCreuset pots, my cake stand, and my old-fashioned analog kitchen scale, plus my substantial napkin and dish towel collection–both clean and dirty.
For the shoot, I decided to prepare two simple open-faced sandwiches. One, with avocado and radish, is an old favorite. The second, a newer combo, is made up of two condiments easily whipped up in the food processor: white bean spread and arugula-walnut pesto. That pairing was really delightful, light, almost springy, like a vacation from gloomy February. It reminded me how much I love white bean spread, which is insanely simple to make. (I don’t need to be reminded of my affection for pesto.)
Since the tartines turned out more exciting than I expected and because Rima shot gorgeous photos of the food, I decided to celebrate the arrival of my new about photo, which’ll be appearing as well on a slightly revamped sidebar soon, by sharing the recipe for them with you.
White Bean & Arugula-Walnut Pesto Tartines
Makes 4 to 6 tartines
To shave Parmesan, use your carrot peeler against your hunk of Parm to create thin peels. Both the dip and the pesto can be made up to 2 days in advance…in other words, this is a dish you could pretty much always have as an easy lunch or snack if you two spreads are on hand.
For the white bean spread
One 15-ounce can cannellini or white beans
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the arugula pesto
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt, more if needed
2 cups packed arugula leaves
1/4 cup walnut or olive oil, or a combination
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For the tartines
2 slices good sourdough bread per serving, toasted if you like
a little lemon juice (optional)
First, make the white bean spread. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the can of beans, then drain and rinse the beans. Set aside. Combine the salt and garlic in the mini food processor and pulse to pulverize. Add the beans, lemon juice, and olive oil and puree. Add a a tablespoon of the reserved bean liquid if the mixture seems thick.
Rinse out the food processor.
Then, to make the pesto, combine the garlic, walnuts, and salt together in the mini food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the arugula and blend until the basil has begun to break down. Add the oil and puree until the mixture is smooth and has the desired consistency, adding more oil if needed to create a smooth paste with the consistency of mayo. Add the Parmesan and pulse once more.
Spread each piece of toast thickly with the white bean spread. Spoon on a generous amount of the arugula pesto, and top each slice with 3 to 4 Parmesan shavings. Drizzle on a little lemon juice if you like.