Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 1 pound (about 2½ cups) dried cannellini or other dried white beans
- 4 cloves garlic, bruised with knife
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 to 3 cups water or unsalted chicken broth, or as needed
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Procedures:Beans slowly baked in the oven tend to be more flavorful and have a smoother texture than beans boiled on top of the stove. These beans can be cooked up to 5 days in advance of serving. Store them tightly covered in the refrigerator, and then serve them cold in salads or as a warm side dish. Embellish the beans with sautéed cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh Italian parsley, and pitted Kalamata olives.
- Place the beans in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by at least 2 inches, and soak in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Drain well before using. Alternatively, place the beans in a saucepan, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand in the water, covered, for 1 hour. Drain well before using.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the beans, garlic, olive oil, onion, and bay leaf in a medium (4-quart) or large (7- to 8-quart) Dutch oven and stir to blend. Add water or broth to cover the beans.
- Cover and bake for 1½ to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Let stand for 30 minutes. As the beans cool, they will absorb most of the excess cooking liquid. Scoop out the onion halves and bay leaf, and discard. Drain the beans in a strainer to eliminate any liquid that isn't absorbed. Discard the liquid or reserve it for soup.
- Season the beans with salt and pepper and use in recipes calling for cooked white.