One of my friends just gave me a gift bag containing a bag of black bean soup mix, a mix for onion dip, and a dry salsa mix, all of them from the Women's Bean Project. I had never heard of the Women's Bean Project, but it's been around since 1989 with a mission to teach workplace competencies for entry-level positions to women who come from backgrounds of poverty and chronic unemployment. It's a gourmet food social enterprise, and they offer a line of products including soup and chili mixes, dip mixes, spice rubs, baking mixes and gift baskets.

Last night I need a quick-fix appetizer, so I made the Mediteranean Onion Dip. All you do is dump the mix in a saucepan, add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. After it comes to a boil, you reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

The basic ingredients are navy bean flakes, minced onion and parsley, a veggie base, and some salt and pepper. The end product is a white bean dip with a texture that sort of resembles hummus, but not quite as smooth. It's not real pretty, but it tasted good. This particular mix contains white pepper, and the taste of that was a bit strong for me. But once I spread some on a baguette slice, it was fine. I'm thinking that these dried dip mixes would be perfect for a trip to the beach when you don't want to haul a bunch of groceries in the car. Next I'll make the black bean soup and report back.

This enterprise operates out of Denver, so I'm going to try to find out more about this project when I'm there for the International Associaton of Culinary Professionals (IACP) meeting in April. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy some dip and some soup. Both of these mixes were made by a woman named Donna. Thank you, Donna.