This dish is creamy, garlicky, and super filling: Think mashed potatoes, but with a little more nutrition and a nice dose of dried herbs. It's also a perfect recipe to pull out of your pantry when you're low on ingredients, and the leftovers will last for days (unless you're cooking for friends, in which case you shouldn't expect them to last for long!). —Gena Hamshaw
8 to 10
great Northern or cannellini beans, picked over
olive oil, plus extra for drizzling, divided
white onion, chopped
stalks celery, chopped
cloves garlic, minced
dry bay leaves
whole head garlic, top sliced off horizontally to expose the cloves beneath
Place the beans in a large, deep bowl and cover them with enough water to submerge them by 3 to 4 inches. Allow them to soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is sweetly fragrant, adding a few tablespoons of water as needed to prevent everything from sticking.
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Add the beans and the bay leaves to the pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1 1/2 inches. Cover and simmer for a total of about 50 minutes, or until the beans are absolutely tender and creamy. Fifteen minutes before you remove the beans from heat, remove the lid and allow the beans to finish cooking uncovered.
While your beans cook, drizzle the whole garlic head with enough olive oil to coat the cloves. Wrap it in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cloves are golden and very soft when you unwrap the garlic. Set it aside.
When the beans have finished simmering, skim off any extra liquid, so that they're not too soupy (keep in mind that they will thicken up quite a bit as they sit, and especially as you store the leftovers). Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Check the seasonings and add a little more salt if needed. Then, one by one, pop the roasted garlic cloves into the beans, using as much of the whole head of garlic as you can. Use a potato masher or the back of a heavy spoon to mash the beans up a bit—you want many of them to retain their shape but for the mixture to be spreadable.
Scoop the beans onto toast and drizzle them with extra olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, if desired. Leftover beans can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, and frozen for up to one month in an airtight container.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.