White beans cooked Tuscan-style with sage and other fresh herbs make a delicious, inexpensive, and healthy side dish recipe to go with many main dishes.
I’ll let you in on a secret – beans don’t have to be cooked in brown sugar and molasses to be tasty. In fact, there are many, many ways to enjoy beans. They’re eaten everywhere.
This is a very simple looking but deceptively delicious side dish. Like most Tuscan cooking, it’s neither fancy nor complicated. There are no expensive ingredients, heavy sauces, or elaborate presentations.
It’s just high quality local ingredients combined in delicious, and elegantly simple, ways – my favourite kind of cooking.
Don’t be fooled by their simple appearance – with sage and garlic and plenty of black pepper, these beans have flavour. Tasty and versatile, they go well with many different entrees. Think about all the ways that refried beans are served in Texas – pair these with chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.
Don’t just make a single batch of this, though. Since you’ll be soaking and cooking the beans for a while, make more than you’ll need. Leftovers can go into salads, stews, and soups, like Tuscan White Bean Soup.
You’ll need 3 cups dried white beans. Cannellini are traditional, but use whatever white beans you can find. There are no bean police.
Cover the beans with plenty of cold water and let them soak at least 8 hours.
After soaking, put them in a very large pot with fresh cold water and add the olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, fresh herbs, salt, and peppercorns. Bring this to a boil quickly, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.
Time will depend on the age and size of the beans. Smaller, fresh beans take less time than large, older beans. You want them to be tender but not mushy.
Remove from heat and let the beans and liquid cool in the pot for 15-20 minutes.
Drain the beans. If you want to save some of the liquid, it’s full of nutrients and good in soups and stews. Remove the bay leaves and any other solids that you don’t want in your finished beans.
Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the best olive oil you can find, and enjoy.
You might like:
- 3 cups dried white beans (preferably cannellini), rinsed and picked over
- Cold water, to cover
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 10-12 large fresh sage leaves
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 15-20 whole black peppercorns
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons high-quality extra virgin olive oil
- Add rinsed beans to a large bowl and cover with cold water. Cover and set aside for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse beans and transfer to a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover with 2-3 inches of cold water and add 2 tablespoons regular olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, fresh herbs, salt, and black peppercorns. Bring to a low boil for one minute over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Remove and discard any foam that collects on the surface while boiling.
- Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Remove from heat and let beans cool in the pot with the cooking liquid for 15-20 minutes.
- Note: Actual cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans. Smaller, fresher beans will take less time than larger, older ones. Check for doneness after 45 minutes and adjust cooking time accordingly. Beans should be tender, but not mushy.
- Carefully drain beans, reserving some of the liquid to use in soups or stews, if desired. Remove and discard the solids from cooking before transferring the beans to a serving container. Season with salt and black pepper, if desired, and drizzle with high-quality olive oil to serve. Enjoy!