roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

At work, I have a straight-shot view from my sample corner to the front of the store. The other day, an older man, let's say early 70's, bee lined straight to my back corner with his red grocery basket in hand. He hobbled a little but had a smile on his face. He, of course, took a free sample before giving me his pitch, which from what I could gather was possibly the reason he came into the store in the first place. On the back of a bank deposit slip he had handwritten, all caps, the name of his wife and her self-published cookbook she recently listed on Amazon. "It's all gluten free recipes, you should go there for ideas, we eat her lasagna once a week and it's my favorite." He was sweet and sincere, seemed like the kind of guy I would love to feed - the sort that is enthusiastic and grateful. "I will definitely check it out, sounds great. Tell her congratulations, that is a really wonderful accomplishment." I meant it. Both that I would check it out and that I was impressed someone of her assumed age had the drive to self-publish a book, without pictures, in a well-covered however niche subject, and got it on the internet! "Ok great, and could you please leave a review?" You guys. I spend a lot of time frustrated with the general public while I am giving away free food in the corner of a grocery store. Maybe you've worked retail and that makes humanistic sense to you even though our hearts are compassionate and loving. It is taxing. Most people don't say please and thank you (and I LOVE good manners). But a husband that will come in promoting his wife on the back of a deposit slip and request that a complete stranger also write a review after our two minute conversation - those are the people that I want to come across in my everyday. I am keeping that slip in my purse, if only to remind me how that man made me feel. To remind me that it's never too late, that we ourselves are in charge of doing things we dream of doing. That our people, the ones that really truly love, support and encourage, those are the people I want close and that is the person I want to be for people I love. The kind that runs around town with hand made fliers. 

Hugh and I have had quite the past few weeks whilst deciding on taking the leap into owning a home. Our cost of living will increase significantly, we have weekends full of projects for the foreseable future, and the fact that our income fluctuates is not changing amid this great risk. So much money and paperwork. So many tears and sleepless nights. So much unknown. But even people with 9-5 jobs have unknowns. Nothing is certain. For anyone. Ever. You just try to make manageable decisions from what you know of the present. What I DO know is that I have my person - the one who is scared along with me but also excited to get our hands dirty and make it ours. That unpredictable and risky road, we'll figure it out.

This season of life has turned out to be considerably different from what I thought it would be. I pictured myself six months pregnant, having my feet rubbed, pinning pictures of baby nurseries and eating french fries but it looks more like afternoons in the city library working on my book and collecting boxes from my second job to pack up our apartment. There is some sort of wonderful reality that doesn't often get considered in expectations. It surprises me every time and yet I can't help but build conjectures about what life "should" look like. So much of our story is going to unfold in this next year, best not to make assumptions. 

Speaking of expectations, I thought I was the girl who would get you great dip recipes prior to important weekends where lots of dip is involved. Alas, the Super Bowl has come and gone. This is the dip I brought to a friends house and it's worth sharing for future dip recipe needing occasions. It's a teensy bit spicy and reminds me of warm hummus in the best way - the way that has a thin layer of golden cheese on top and smells of bright fennel and lemon. Better late than never on this one. 

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen


Recipe adapted from Food 52

I like browsing the community picks on Food52 to see what people are making and like to see in recipes. This recipe of theirs had some great feedback. For my own taste, I added a kick of red pepper and simplified the directions a bit to save dirtying one more pan. You can refer to the original recipe if you don't mind dishes as much as I do. 

I have a little leftover and plan to thin it with broth to make a soup. I'll try to remember to report back.

  • 1 large fennel bulb (reserve the fronds)
  • 4 cloves garlic, in skins
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups cooked Cannelinni beans, well drained
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. fennel fronds
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roughly dice the fennel. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes or until edges are browned. In the last few moments, add the rosemary to the tray, toss it around and bake just another minute to soften.

In a food processor, combine the white beans, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes, fennel fronds and parmesan. Add the fennel, rosemary and push the roasted garlic out of its skin into the processor as well. Pulse everything together into a rough puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (we like lots of herbs, lemon and pepper). Turn the oven up to 450. Transfer the dip to a baking dish and sprinkle the top generously with grated parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the dip is warm and the cheese has browned.

Serve warm with crostini, crackers, crudite, flatbread etc. 

roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip . Sprouted Kitchen

Reader Comments (58)

Looks fantastic! So original, and the photos look fab! :)

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShira

Hey Sara! I barely comment here, but since it seems I'm the first one to comment, I wanted to tell you I really loved the story about the old, hobbling man promoting his wife's cookbook. It's beautiful to know that there are people who will support your dream, and even more lovely to witness it in an elderly couple, who have gone through thick and thin and still choose the other, and still vouch and vote and everyday bet on the other's success. Thank you for sharing the story with us, it gives me hope!

And, you're right, life is so unexpected, I bet your story (together with Hugh and the little one) will be an exciting one, something we'd all love to have a peek into if we're fortunate enough. Either way, I'm sending lots of love and warmth and happiness your way, and thanks for this dip, it looks delicious!

love from Argentina,

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfelicia | Dish by Dish

Congrats on this big leap! An own home – what an exciting journey it will be. I'm sure, in the end, it will be worth all the fear and exhaustion you have and will experience. Lovely post, photos, and recipe as always.

Hope you two (three) have a wonderful week! xo

Thanks for sharing such a lovely post. It's true -- life is never how we imagine it in our heads. The ups and downs come in different colors and seasons than we could ever imagine. It is surprising that we are so bad at predicting the future. But also joyful, in a funny sort of way. Hope the work at the library is productive. I for one am looking forward to your next book!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Ahh, I always love your posts, but so many things here just resonate with me completely--especially embracing the speed and pace at which life actually happens, instead of how we *think* it should have happened. At 31, I am now just contemplating moving in with my partner of 10 years, we still probably have a couple more years after that until (serious) baby talk, and there's no house or marriage in sight (by choice, mainly, but my fear about what others think of that still plagues me...). I have to constantly tell myself that this is all okay, and that getting hyped up about expectations set by my ten-year-old self and my perception of others 'clipping' my pace are neither healthy nor realistic. Our lives are not Instagram; they're not all lattes and pretty views and clean houses and spotless food. They're messes and silly arguments and crumbs and jobs-we-like-but-don't-love too. But I like to think that as long as we just keep moving (like that sweet gentleman in your story), we'll be on the right track.

Or maybe just the track--forget the 'right.' :)

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

beautiful story about the old man..people like that really inspire me to follow my dreams and move on. This dip sounds wonderful..even though Super bowl is over, theres always room for dips :)

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdixya

Such a lovely story, so beautifully told. You've given me a whole lot to think about tonight. I particularly love the line "There is some sort of wonderful reality that doesn't often get considered in expectations". I'm going to come back to that time and time again. Thanks for all that you guys do here.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

What a great story and you're right- it's those stories that make all the hard times and ungrateful people worthwhile.

This dip looks amazing and I recently got over my fear fennel (I was always afraid it' be too licorice-y), so I think the next time I go to a dip-worthy event, I'll be taking this!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

Thanks for sharing such a warm and sincere story! If we have loved ones that root for us, we are truly successful.

I really appreciate reading such an honest and real post. What an amazing opportunity to own your own home!

The dip looks delicious and easy to make. I really look forward to trying it.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJustina

Oh, Sara. I just think of you 2.7 all the time!!! I love your insight (yes, DO hang onto that slip). I love your courage (no certainty, save uncertainty). I love your love of roasted fennel + white beans. Mmmm...

Babies have a wonderful way of re-aligning expectations according to reality. Which is so much more present in the sink full of dishes and unfolded laundry and clotted commutes, than any shiny thing one might find on Pinterest. Maddening. Wonderful. Get used to it. (It's a good thing.)


February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermolly

that was a lovely story. keep on hanging on and good luck with everything! warm thoughts your way!! and to have a moment about this dip... amazing! i do an asparagus white bean dip, but this one would have such an interesting flavour surprise. awesome idea!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica (bakecetera)

What a great story Sarah, you've just made my day.
I remember spotting this recipe on Food52 a while back, but then completely forgot about it. I'm definitely giving it a-go now, you've inspired me.
And good luck with everything!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike

What a wonderful post and what a sweet story! My mum is a writer but only became a writer once we kids were almost grown up. When my mum recently had a poetry collection published my dad emailed every single one of our family, his friends and acquaintances inviting everyone to her readings and advertising the book - your story reminded me of that, such a wonderful and beautiful sign of love after all those years, all that life. I hope I get to be so lucky (and I know it takes much more than luck to get there but luck certainly helps) as that couple and as my parents.

And that fennel dip? I am a huge fennel lover and have started experimenting with bean dips a bit more recently as well. Love the combo - will have to give it a try.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSophia

What a sweet, sweet story. I think we're too individualistic these days to ask for help from a stranger. So, for that old man to ask you write a review is awesome. We should all lean on each other a little more. Lord knows we could all use it.

Good luck with home ownership. If I can give any advice, I would say buy a house WELL below your budget. As I'm sure you've found out, the bank will loan you millions. They don't care that 100% of your salary goes to a mortgage and it would be nice to eat, too. We always tell the bank what we want our monthly payment to be instead of asking them how much will they give us. That way, when we move into an 87 year old house and 3 major things break in the first month (true life, right now), it's not so stressful.

This dip sounds awesome! Cant' wait to try it :)

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

I am loving the sound of this dip. So dang creative and a nice change of pace from hummus or spinach/artichoke. The photos are fantastic. Also, I can absolutely relate to everything you said about buying a house + fluctuating income. Even with 1 steady income it's super scary and hard. Old houses are not for the faint of heart. Helloooo anxiety! We should talk sometime soon. :) I know for a fact you two will make it work, though!! xo

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

The dip looks delicious! Already on my shopping list for this weekend.
About the house......take a deep breath.....sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

Oh man, I love this story. It's beautiful.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Am I the only one who wants the Amazon link to the man's wife's book? Dying to click on that one! Owning a house is such a big step. Ours is 100+years old and barely a week passes we don't ask ourselves, why did we buy this money pit? But the memories and joys found in creaky stairs (that we tiptoed down when the kids were wee babes falling asleep) or the front porch that our 8yr old reported "is falling down" make me smile and know the expense (and stress) is worth it.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatherine

Thank you for sharing such a delightful story about the dear man. I went in to see my dentist the other day only to learn that while my husband is there for his own dental work, apparently he promotes MY blog. Whe he would think she would have the time or interest I don't know, but it was lovely to hear that he thinks enough of my efforts to speak so freely. "They" can be very sweet. And your personal story of change and expansion, deep reflection mixed with a sweet hopefulness is very poignant. My heart melted a little bit...and I wish you well in all areas. And let me also say that this dip looks just fantastic. I love fennel! Debra

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDebra

You are so right on the assumptions, 18 months on from the birth of my little one and I am still doing it. We both have flu, we have no water or heat and intermittent power due to storms today and I was feeling horribly sorry for myself as this was not the way I envisaged motherhood. Then as I tucked my grubby, bundled up little man into bed for the night, kissed him goodnight and told him I loved him he grinned up at me and said "wuv u" for the first time. No daydream about what it should be like can capture that feling, hold onto those moments, like when you open the door to your new house together, they help you surf he rest of it! (Now I just need to remember that!)
Good luck on your journey together.

Also I'm with Catherine, I'd love the link to that book if it doesn't feel too much like endorsement to you, Sometimes bravery should be rewarded.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenters

I'm a huge fan of anything with white beans - this sounds amazing. Thank you!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJill @ 42potatoes

Oh, I love fennel! I've only started buying it and using it in my own kitchen this winter, though, so you posted this just in time. It's truly something, that transformation that a crisp, bright vegetable makes after half an hour in the oven with plenty of olive oil!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in New York

Looks tasty!
So excited for you and your upcoming adventures. I am sure making a home that's yours will bring you great pleasure and joy no matter what challenges lie ahead. Good Luck!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

This looks delicious and beautiful. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you for posting and best of luck on your journey into the unexpected. Sending you lots of light. :)

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia Nicole

This is really a beautiful story, Sara. Such a deeply thoughtful and moving stream of consciousness that I think we can all relate to. Thanks for the bravery of continuing to open up to us, your readers. And this dip looks delicious. I should make more dips, I know my husband would appreciate them as snacks. This may be just what I need to push me out of my routine a little!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @ Whole Nourishment

Sara, thank you for your sharing and writing. I'm one month behind you in pregnancy and grappling with/celebrating similar themes. I've had your cookbook since it came on the market and admire the beauty I find in yours and Hugh's work. I feel like we're friends- such a funny thing about the blog world and one of the most precious. And if it weren't dumping snow right now, I'd run out and buy some fennel to make this immediately!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentererin jade

Congrats on purchasing a home! I love the story about that sweet older man…so cute :) Good luck with everything…looking forward to trying this recipe!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Brown

Look soo great!!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFructe uscate

Thanks for sharing the story and the recipe - but I am truly missing the Amazon link to the man's wife's book - please share this as well!

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGudrun

@Gudrun - All I have down is "is gluten free for me" name, but it is self published. May take a bit of digging on amazon but should be there somewhere!

February 6, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

Sara, could this be the link to his wife's book? I googled "is gluten free for me" on amazon and found this:

Hope it helps Gudrun!

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfelicia | Dish by Dish

What a great story about the old man and his wife. I work with the public as well and you are correct, not everyone is a peach. But every now and then you run across a person that makes you say to yourself, I hope I am like that for others. Those are special moments and special days. It's nice to hear that you see and appreciate people in this way.

Also, I recently got your book from the library and the top is full of ripped up napkin pieces marking the recipes I plan to try. Good luck with everything new and wonderful.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Wishing you the best of luck in your house-hunting search!

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIleana

This looks just beautiful and delicious but I am not a big fan of fennel, is there something you would recommend substituting with?

P.s. I got a copy of your cookbook for christmas and have had the best January going through the recipes, it's truly a treat, thank you!

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

@kelsey - I would maybe just skip this one. It's sort of what offers contrast to the beans with its sharpness. Celery or endive have a similar texture but those don't benefit much from roasting and get weird when warmed. Glad you are enjoying the book!!

February 7, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

This sounds delicious! I love your story about the note, little interactions like that make my day.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

I love that your posts are so much more than just amazing recipes! Bless you and your hubby.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary C.

Sarah, I've been following your blog for a while being intrigued by your beautiful words and Hugh's awesome photos. This is the first time that I comment, because this is actually the first recipe I tried out. I was having a little fennel left over and didn't know what to do with it.... and then... you published your blog post. I loved the outcome and will add this to my fave fennel recipes. Thanks for all the delicious meals, the original ideas and for making this blog such a pleasure to read. Cheers from Germany.

February 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCaro

Viva la dreams and viva this dip/casserole! Happy Nesting!

February 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefolia

I loved it! Made it last night for friends.
Has a great Lemon flavor with a nice hit of spice.
Definitely a reorder

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSugarmamas2

This dip is very tasty. It's also very easy to make, with most of the ingredients on hand. Try it and you will love it!

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

Looks so good, the addition of fennel would definitely add something to this...

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJ.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

Will definitely be trying this!

February 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaudette

This looks so fantastic and so easy to make! I love white beans. Thanks for the recipe.
xo Dina

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDina

this sounds delicious

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterperfect weight

I recently had my birthday so of course it got me thinking about where I am and where I imagined I would be. Nothing is like I thought it would be and in some ways it makes my heart hurt and in other ways it feels incredible. Like you, I am balancing a life as a creative with my partner. Every single day I'm thankful to have him to help navigate this crazy life...

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJade Sheldon-Burnsed


I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your feelings with us, your openness is appreciated as we sometimes think we are a;one in these experiences. The recipes, supporting information and links are good.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersheron

I just noticed this in my feed and wondered if I hadn't mentally picked up on it before, because just yesterday I made a similar spread only with white lentils instead of cannelini beans. It had that remarkable anise taste and the unmistakable lentil texture and it was really darn good. The idea popped in my head seemingly out of nowhere, but now I think I must have seen this and just not remembered it.

Love your words, and the admittance of fear in these big steps. Life is so full of risks. I think the fear often tells us that we're on the right path, though.

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Thank you for sharing that story:) I love that you made this dip warm, I usually only think of making cold dips! (ok maybe sometimes some melted chocolate will count as a warm dip:)

February 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

This is delicious. I had white beans already cooked. It was a fabulous dinner, with this spread and labneh from the middle eastern grocery on cucumbers or crisped baguette, and a salad from the garden, and scrambled eggs with leeks and mushrooms. MMM! Thanks for the inventive recipe.

February 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdana

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