Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

We turned an interesting corner with my son’s food allergies this week. Last November, after uneventfully eating hummus (with sesame paste, aka tahini) for several months, he had a strange hivey reaction to a tahini-based salad dressing. I was fairly certain it wasn’t a cross-contamination issue (i.e. peanuts on the tahini-making equipment or something) because I had been careful to buy tahini that was labelled as “made in a facility that only handles sesame seeds”. I figured we likely had another food allergy to add to the list, and knowing how common sesame allergies were, I guess I wasn’t surprised.

The allergist, however, was surprised, mostly because dude had previously tolerated hummus without a trace of any reaction or issue. So instead of “scratch-testing” him to confirm an allergy (which apparently has a high rate of false positives) she encouraged me to reintroduce the hummus and cross my toes.

Of course by that time I had all but outlawed sesame seeds from my house (discovering in the process that sesame is in just about EVERYTHING) and I have been terrified at the prospect of trying it again.

Until this week, that is, when my hands—without permission from my brain—grabbed a container of hummus from the grocery store, paid for it, carried it home, spread it on a (wheat-free) pancake, fed it to my son, and watched, hands wringing.

And nothing. NOTHING. Not even a red spot.

Convinced it was just a fluke, I tried it the next day again, this time with a thicker layer of hummus (same pancake). And? NOTHING.

Is there a polite way to say WHAT. THE. F.?

As if food allergies were not vexing enough, it appears that my food-allergic kid is possibly allergic to some subset of sesame seeds. A “species” of sesame seed, maybe? He’s not allergic to the sesame paste hiding in the store-bought hummus, but he is allergic to the tahini quarantined in a Ziploc bag down in my basement fridge. Does this even make sense? While it sounds pretty far-fetched, if there is one thing I have learned about food allergies in the past six months: they just don’t make sense. Never ever.

Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

One positive byproduct of cooking without sesame for four months is that I’ve discovered some delicious non-seed containing alternatives to hummus. And I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip is better than any hummus you will ever make or buy. Even if we are able to finally rule out a sesame allergy, this dip will continue to be my go-to veg and cracker accompaniment. It’s also a great lunchbox dip for kids who have sesame-restricted classrooms. (Don’t laugh! Some do!)

The dip is delightfully creamy (so creamy that dippers will suspect it contains dairy; it doesn’t), naturally sweet from the caramelized onions, and super flavourful thanks to the trio of citrus, garlic and dried herbes de provence (which you should be able to find in the spices section of most grocery stores).

Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

The key to the creamy texture is to let the dip churn in the food processor for a solid three or four minutes. The longer you process it the more velvety and creamy it becomes. Just be sure to stop the food processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl every minute or so to fully incorporate all the lovely bits.

This dip will keep for several days in the fridge, but is best served at room temperature or slightly warm. If you are serving it out of the fridge, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds or so, just to take the chill off, then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Oh, and if anyone has any insight into our sesame allergy mystery, please share in the comments below!

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Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip
Prep time
Total time
This velvety smooth and flavourful dip is a great alternative to hummus and is delicious as a dip for crackers, chips and veggie sticks, or as a spread on a sandwich with grilled vegetables and sundried tomatoes.The dip is best at room temperature or slightly warm, so if you are serving it from the fridge, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds or so to take the chill off.
  • 2 medium onions (about ½ a pound), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 14 oz / 398 ml can cannellini / white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Start by caramelizing the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat them with the oil, and then turn the heat down to low and let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep brown colour. This will take about 20-30 minutes. If the onions start to dry out, stir in a couple tablespoons of water.
  2. Combine the caramelized onions, remaining ¼ cup olive oil, white beans, garlic clove, lemon juice, herbes de Provence and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz it all up for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides every minute or so, until the dip is very creamy and velvety. Taste for seasoning, then stir in additional salt if required.
  3. Serve room temperature or slightly warm with crackers, chips or vegetable sticks.


23 Responses to Creamy White Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

  1. Estudante June 9, 2020 at 9:29 pm #

    Thank you!

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  3. Linda April 15, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    My daughter is allergic to white bean. Other than color, I think pinto beans would be delicious. What do you think? Thanks.

    • Sarah April 29, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

      I’m sure it would be great. Try it and let me know!

  4. Kristy @ She Eats March 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    I’m so sorry you have to deal with those food allergies Sarah. I’m glad the little guy is okay! I know a lot of people suffer/manage food issues like this and I honestly don’t know how you do it. I guess you adjust, right? Like by making creamy white bean and caramelized onion dip. Which sounds darn tootin good to me! I’ve made white bean dips before and they’re just divine. Like hummus, but not hummus.

    PS. There’s ALWAYS a polite way to say WHAT. THE. F. 😉

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      Like hummus, but better than hummus :-). And yes, I guess the polite way to say WHAT THE F. is just that! Ha!

  5. JayanthiSindhiya March 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    Lovely dip,got to try,beautiful clicks

  6. Jennifer Andrews March 28, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    I love the idea of caramelized onions with white beans in this dip! Food allergies can be a tough beast to deal with, but it’s great that you’re able to come up with creative, tasty food ideas for your son.

  7. Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness March 28, 2015 at 1:14 am #

    This sounds like a dip that I would absolutely love!

    I hear what you’re saying about being afraid to give trigger foods to your little one again. I worked in a daycare with tons of food allergies, and I would panic if we received groceries that didn’t specifically say “nut free” or “gluten free” or whatever. Honestly, some days I’d hand out carrots sticks and pray that no one was allergic to those – it’s scary!

    I’m lucky to only have food sensitivities myself, and even that is a pain in the butt to deal with.

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      Ha ha it’s hard enough cooking for your own allergic child let alone someone else’s! Scary!

  8. Teresa March 27, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    This sounds incredible! And food allergies are mysterious and frustrating. I come from a family with all sorts of allergies, asthma, and related problems, while my partner has celiac disease. It can make cooking interesting.

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      Interesting, yes :-).

  9. Bernice March 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    I bet this dip is delicious! I’ve recently seen some recipes for red lentil hummus too…you could always give that a go if you haven’t already.

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      Good idea…going to seek that out!

  10. Meaghan March 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    It sounds as though you are having quite the time determining your sons’ allergies. Hopefully you get resolution to the mystery allergy. This recipe sounds fantastic! I am definitely adding it to my must make list.

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      Do! And let me know if you make it!

  11. jon@localkitchener March 27, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    The whole allergy thing is quite the mystery. We’ve mostly been spared it with our three boys so far, for which we are thankful, but with enough food sensitivities in the extended family we’re always aware and on the lookout.
    This recipe sounds like the perfect use for the extra white beans I cooked up yesterday!

  12. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles March 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    yes, there is, we say ‘what the flop’.

    What an adventure you’re on… nothing educates you about food allergies quite like living through them. Unexpected turns and they can also change over time so, who knows. Keep the epi nearby (if applicable) and keep trying. You’re a good mom and this dip sounds amazing! ps. loved “until this week, that is, when my hands—without permission from my brain – “

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

      I have 6 epi pens. One can never be too prepared :-). Love “what the flop”!

  13. ceecee March 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I often make big batches of carmelized onions….I will add this recipe as a “must try”.

  14. Ayngelina March 27, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I was just looking in my fridge wondering what I should do with the white beans I just cooked. This is a great idea.

  15. Julia @ Swirls and Spice March 27, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Three of my kids had MSPI as infants, which they thankfully outgrew. So I am familiar with diet restrictions, since I had to avoid dairy myself when nursing them. Isn’t it interesting how needing to avoid certain ingredients can fuel delicious new discoveries? I look forward to trying this dip!

    • Sarah April 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      Yes, absolutely. I was devastated when my son was first diagnosed with food allergies. What on earth would I cook? (I wondered) But turns out our diet has become more diverse than ever before. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say :-).

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