I always get discouraged before I even start thinking about cooking dried beans.
It just takes so long to cook and I find that beans are never as tender as they should be for some reason.
Until I started using a pressure cooker. With this method, I usually have very good, consistent results and the aromatic broth the beans cook in is always very flavourful. I also use a pressure cooker to make chicken broth. I think it is the only way to go. Whatever you do, remember not to cook the beans with salt, as this will toughen them and only add the salt at the end of cooking.
I encourage you to try these beans. They are the base of many more posts to come.
To cook beans Tuscan-style, you will need:
2 cups dry cannellini or white kidney beans
10 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
5 fresh sage leaves
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
4 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight in plenty of cold water and drain.
2. Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker except the salt. Bring to pressure over high heat, then lower the heat to medium-low, to keep a steady stream. Cook for 12 minutes and depressurize rapidly, by running cold water on the lid of the pressure cooker.
3. Taste the beans and, if they are not thoroughly cooked, bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook a bit longer until they are done to your liking. Turn the heat off and add the salt. Let steep for 15 minutes and discard the herbs, the garlic and the black peppercorns.
4. Your beans are now ready to use in your favourite recipe.
5. Keep them in the refrigerator in the cooking liquid up to five days.
Tuscan bread and bean soup
This soup is almost too simple to make. And you will not believe how luscious it is.
beans you just cooked along with some of the cooking liquid
(for four people, you will need about half the beans and half the liquid)
good quality baguette or ciabatta, sliced and toasted
1 garlic clove, halved
extra-virgin olive oil, the very best you can buy
cheese, either parmesan or romano, is optional
1. Heat the beans in their cooking liquid over gentle heat.
2. Toast your bread on the barbecue, under the broiler or in a skillet and rub one side with the cut side of a garlic clove.
3. Place the bread in a warm bowl, ladle the soup on top and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper and cheese if using.