People are amazed that simple white beans can taste so very good. This is an old and simple Tuscan recipe. It requires prior planning in that one must start with high quality dried cannellini beans and soak them overnight before cooking. I adore them as is – warmed or at room temperature. Italians use them often in soups, as a side dish, or pureed as a topping for bruschetta. They have a creamy texture and mild flavor that are perfectly suited to carry the flavors of fresh herbs and a finishing olive oil. Give this simple recipe a try – you will not be disappointed and will have a wonderful new healthy protein source in your diet.
I recommend getting your dried cannellini beans from a source where you have confidence that they are not too old. Rancho Gordo beans are the best and becoming more available all the time. (www.ranchogordo.com). Or try an Italian market or organic health-food store as the turnover is likely greater so the beans will be freshly dried. Pick through 2 C dried cannellini beans and discard any discolored or broken ones and any stones. Rinse the beans gently but thoroughly under cold running water. Place in a large bowl or pot with enough cold water to cover by several inches. Let them soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Soooooo…if you did not soak overnight, you can do the quick soak method. Put the beans in a large pot, cover with at least 2 inches of water. Bring the beans to a boil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Cover the pot and let them stand for 1 hour.
Drain the beans and place in a medium saucepan. Add 4 C water, 2 Tb chicken or vegetable bouillon, 3 sprigs of fresh sage, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 2 Tb olive oil. Bring to a boil. Then, lower heat, cover and gently and slowly simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour. As beans do not all cook at the same rate, pull out 5-6 beans from random parts of the pot. If they are all soft, then they are done. Allow them to cool in their liquid.
Once cool, drain beans, reserving about ¼ - ½ C cooking liquid, and transfer to a bowl. Add the reserved cooking liquid, 2-3 fresh sage leaves, minced, 2 Tb minced green onions, 2 TB olive oil and 2-3 tsp. salt & freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss gently.
Drizzle a wonderful finishing olive oil over the beans before serving. Sublime! Give this a try – you will not be disappointed and let me know your thoughts!