Food

Lobio: A vegan version of the quintessential Georgian dish that everyone will want to dip into

Straight off the menu at Toronto’s Tennessee Tavern, this is perfect for backyard snacking.

Straight off the menu at Toronto’s Tennessee Tavern, this is perfect for backyard snacking

(Credit: Overbudget Inc)

As soon as spring temperatures soar into double digits, we can’t help but start planning for all the outdoor eating that awaits. And while most things tend to taste better under the sun (or a shady umbrella), this appetizer from Toronto’s Tennessee Tavern makes us want to gather all our friends for a backyard fête STAT. The restaurant’s take on Lobio, the national dish of Georgia, starts with a garlicky walnut paste that’s mixed with beans, baked low and slow in the oven, then paired with pita bread for dipping. Though Tennessee Tavern’s version is vegan, Chef Brett Howson tells us the preparation of this Georgian classic can vary greatly “from region to region, even family to family” and is served both hot and cold. He also assures us that app matches well with everything from local beer to Orange wine, so as long as you’ve got a hungry crowd around, you really can’t go wrong.

Lobio

By Chef Brett Howson

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs red kidney beans

Georgian Walnut and Garlic Paste:

  • ½ L walnuts
  • 300 mL confit garlic cloves
  • 100 mL red wine vinegar
  • 1 grilled jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

Flavour base:

  • ½ leek bunch
  • ½ celery head
  • 1 Spanish onion

Stock:

  • 3 L water
  • 300 mL porcini mushrooms
  • 75g vegetable base powder

Garnish (optional):

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic oil
  • Green Tomato Relish (see recipe below)

Green Tomato Relish:

  • 4 pickled green tomatoes, small dice (can be found at most Eastern European grocery stores)
  • ½ red onion, small dice
  • ½ parsley bunch, picked
  • ½ dill bunch, picked
  • ½ coriander bunch, picked
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 lemons, juice and zest

Preparation

Soak kidney beans in 6 L of water overnight. Strain and set aside.

For the Georgian Walnut and Garlic Paste, place all ingredients in a food processor and run until smooth.

For the flavour base, wash and rough chop all vegetables. Place vegetables in food processor and blitz until smooth.

For the stock, pour hot water over mushroom and stock and mix with a spoon. Let steep for 10 minutes.

For the Green Tomato Relish, mix all ingredients well, season and set aside.

Once the Georgian paste, flavour base, beans, and stock are made, place all ingredients into your largest pot or casserole dish. Mix well! You should have a gray-ish liquid once mixed.

Cook at 300F for 3 and a half hours using a regular or convection oven — low fan if using convection. Stir every 30 minutes.

When finished, puree ⅓ of the mix with the immersion blender. You may need to adjust seasoning and consistency with red wine vinegar, salt and water as each batch of beans can be different from batch to batch.

Garnish with herbs and Green Tomato Relish, then serve with your favourite pita bread, chips, crackers, lettuce cups or cucumbers.

Yield: Makes 6-20 servings, depending on the party (4 L of dip)

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