The Tastiest Cooked White Beans

how to cook beans from scratch, recipeI’m not one to wax on about beans. I’ve never paid much attention to them. Yes, I enjoy beans in this El Salvadoran casamiento recipe, and my family did recently fall in love with Italian crispy beans. But I just haven’t made beans often… until now. The impetus is my new low cholesterol diet, which includes increasing my intake of beans. I have been researching and experimenting with beans in the kitchen, and now I have a bean recipe that is very tasty and surprisingly pleases the foodie in me.

First, I considered whether canned beans would suffice or if cooking beans from scratch is necessary. One bite of the bland, tasteless beans from a can, and I quickly had my answer. Canned beans just don’t do it for me. However, don’t toss out any canned beans yet. I have a caveat after what I learned through an online discussion on the recipe blog Liz The Chef. Here’s my conclusion: canned beans are great for dips. Pureeing the beans changes the texture, and mixing in other ingredients gives the dip flavor. Canned beans work well when there are other intense flavors that dominate the dish, like chili.

For me the key to tasty beans is to cook them with aromatics so that the beans get infused with flavor. I chose the bold flavors of garlic and rosemary to jazz up the taste of beans in my recipe. I also like Stephanie Weaver’s method for infusing beans with flavor which she describes on her blog Recipe Renovator.

Furthermore, I did some internet research looking into the various ways to cook beans. The variables include:
Should beans be pre-soaked or not?
When should the salt be added?
Should they be cooked stovetop, in the oven, in a pressure cooker or in a crockpot?
Serious Eats has an interesting discussion about the best way to cook beans. To cut to the chase, there’s no definitive answer, but people seem to firmly defend their camp. In my recipe below, I detail all the choices I made in this simple, straight-forward method.

These flavorful beans are perfect for adding to soup, salads, and grain dishes. Make a big batch and freeze any extra for later use.

The Tastiest Cooked White Beans
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Yields 2 cups of cooked beans
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried white beans (like cannellini or great northern)
  • 5 cups of filtered water
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions:
  1. Sort beans and discard any rocks or damaged beans. Rinse.
  2. Place beans, garlic, rosemary and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the flame lower, cover with the lid ajar, and simmer stirring occasionally.
  3. About halfway through cooking, stir in ½ teaspoon salt (about 30-40 minutes into cooking). If necessary, add more water as the beans cook so that they remain covered by water.
  4. Cook beans until soft and creamy, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. The time varies depending on the specific batch of beans. Check several different beans for doneness before turning off the stove; sometimes not all the beans are ready at once. Drain and remove rosemary branch.

 

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