Pot of Beans
Straight from the pot, beans make a meal. Serve cannellini beans Italian-style, with crostini and escarole sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and finish with fried rosemary sprigs and a little more oil.
- 1 pound dried beans, such as kidney, cannellini, navy, pinto, or black
- 8 to 10 cups water, plus more for soaking
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 fresh chile, chopped
- Coarse salt
- Optional flavor add-ins (see below)
Make the beans: Place beans in a large bowl; cover with water by several inches. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Drain. (For a quick soak, cover beans in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain.)
Make the flavor base: Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, chile, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and any add-ins until onion and garlic are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add beans, 8 cups water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, adding water as needed to keep submerged, until tender, 35 minutes to 2 hours, depending on type of bean. (Start checking for doneness after 30 minutes.)