The white bean dip at Olio in Stamford combines the tastes of the Middle East and Italy.


Stephen Costanzo, chef-owner of Olio in Stamford

Stephen Costanzo, chef-owner of Olio in Stamford, uses ingredients from different cultures to put new twists on traditional dishes. That’s how he created Olio’s white bean dip. “I wanted something other than olive oil or butter on the table with bread,” Costanzo says. “It’s hummus with an Italian flair. I took a traditional recipe for hummus and added Italian ingredients, substituting cannellini beans for the chickpeas, and added parsley, rosemary and red bell pepper.”

The dip has become a crowd-pleaser. “It’s very quick, easy and versatile for a home cook. You can also use this with chips, veggie crudites, or as a spread for wraps or sandwiches. It has a great shelf life. It’s good for about five days, tightly wrapped and kept properly refrigerated,” says Costanzo, who opened Olio in 2012. "I think of it as an art form that utilizes all your senses. Every chef is inspired by other chefs and certain trends, but it’s important to be as creative and original as possible.”

As a child, Costanzo dabbled in the kitchen, but discovered a passion for food in his mid-20s. “I was working as a truck driver delivering produce to restaurants and country clubs and was in awe of meeting these chefs in the kitchen. I saw the respect they were given and how great it was to see what they were able to accomplish on a grander scale, so I quit my job and went to culinary school on the weekends in New York City and got a job with a caterer during the week. The rest is history.”

Stephen Costanzo’s White bean dip

Serves 12 • Time: 45 minutes

  • 1 pound dry white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper (roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover by 2 inches.

Drain the beans and place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the bay leaves and salt. Cook on medium-high until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Stir beans periodically to prevent sticking.

Drain and rinse the beans in cool water and refrigerate for about an hour.

Once cooled, add the beans and the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Purée until smooth, like the texture of hummus. Add more oil if the mixture is not smooth enough. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature with crusty Italian table bread before or during your meal. 

Pamela Brown is a former English professor, a prolific freelance writer, and author of Faithful Love, her first novel that inspired a love of writing. She resides in Connecticut with her daughter, Alexis, who makes her life an adventure. 

This article appeared in the August 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.