5 Ingredients or Fewer

Rich & Creamy Beans From Rachel Roddy

June 16, 2020
29 Ratings
Photo by Kristen Miglore
Author Notes

That bag of dried beans sitting in your cupboard that you just keep...not cooking? This Genius technique, modified from Tuscan tradition, will essentially do it for you—and make them creamier and more flavorful than ever.

As Rachel Roddy writes in her column for the Guardian, “Every year, usually in October, we visit Maremma, a glorious cummerbund of a region straddling lower Tuscany and higher Lazio … Maremmani know how to cook white beans, simmering them until tender, often in terracotta, and occasionally in time-honoured fashion, al fiasco, in a glass flask in the embers of a fire. Fat, tender, creamy and often still warm, the beans are served with a little of their own broth and some extra virgin olive oil...

“There are plenty of strongly held opinions about cooking beans in Maremma … in Tuscany ... in Italy. Just like learning a language, you listen and repeat; then once you are confident, you do it your way. Then you may get stuck in your ways, digging in your kitchen heels. I am not sure why I had never thought to cook beans in the oven before—which is nearest to the embers, I suppose—but I hadn’t. I now know it is a good way, producing plump, deeply flavoured beans. Not that you can’t get beautifully flavoured beans on the stovetop, but it must be something about the effect of baking as opposed to boiling heat, the taste of both beans and broth is richer and rounder somehow. Same with sage and garlic. In the oven, the sage loses its aggressive bitterness, taking on a savoury, almost meaty fragrance. Garlic, too, benefits from baking; it brings out its kinder side, the inside of the cloves becoming so sweet and soft they can be squeezed from the skin like cream from a tube. I add salt to the beans, along with the oil and herbs. (Seasoning at the start is different to seasoning at the end—I don’t believe it toughens the beans as some people say—but if you prefer, add salt at the end.)"

A few more tips: If you’ve forgotten to soak your beans, don’t worry—this method still works well, it may just take a bit longer. This technique will work with any variety of dried beans, though the cook time may vary (chickpeas in particular will take longer, and the older your beans are, the longer they will take). If you don’t have precisely these seasonings, consider other herbs like rosemary, thyme, or bay leaf, a Parmesan rind, a split onion, a dried chile.

Recipe adapted from The Guardian (December 2016).

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Rich & Creamy Beans From Rachel Roddy
  • Prep time 10 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound (450g) dry cannellini (or other) beans
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 6 sage leaves (or other sturdy herbs)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Soak the beans in plenty of cold water for 10 hours. Drain and rinse the beans, then return to a large ovenproof pot or casserole with a lid. Cover with cold water, making sure the water comes a good couple of fingers above the beans (1 to 2 inches, depending on how brothy you like your beans).
  2. Heat the oven to 335°F. On the stovetop, over a medium-low heat, bring the beans slowly to just-before-the-boil (they mustn’t boil), skimming away any surface foam if you like, then add the whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic, sage, a good pinch of salt, and olive oil. Cover the pan with the lid and transfer to the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender and surrounded by just a little cloudy broth. Check the seasoning and squeeze the garlic from the skin and stir it into the broth if you wish. Serve alone with more olive oil on top, with sausages, or as part of a soup.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kim Snader
    Kim Snader
  • Celia Weaver
    Celia Weaver
  • Susan Sovey Shelley
    Susan Sovey Shelley
  • Lucy D
    Lucy D
  • Smaug
    Smaug
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

149 Reviews

Sfpami March 8, 2021
These beans are to die for! I picked some Sorana beans up at my local Farmer's Market and cooked them exactly as printed. I've never had such luscious, creamy delicate beans. The most amazing thing was the amount of flavor imparted from so few ingredients. Pure simple deliciousness!
 
Kim S. February 20, 2021
I just made these beans (for the umpteenth time), but added frozen spinach at the end with a dash of nutmeg and a few flakes of chili pepper. I'm in heaven! The olive oil is key to the lusciousness of the beans, so use your best. Next time, I'll experiment with a mixture of different-colored beans (I'm betting it will be gorgeous and delicious).
 
MacGuffin February 21, 2021
I regret to say that I shared yesterday’s beans with two friends; one loved them, the other said I’d used too much EVOO. Go figure.
 
Celia W. February 19, 2021
BEST!!! BEANS!!!! EVER!!!! I used Rancho Gordo Cassoulet beans and added a few tablespoons of Mediterranean Medley olive oil and a parm rind. OMG to die. We eat these every week with a freshly baked baguette. YUM!
 
MacGuffin February 20, 2021
I’ve got King City Pinks in the oven as I text. I do the simmer but bake in a slow oven overnight. The technique and seasoning works with and complements every type of bean I’ve used. Not only that, family members are using the technique now and love it. Thanks, Kristen!
 
Kristen February 17, 2021
I just had leftovers (third day in a row!) for lunch today and still love these! I suspect it's the simplicity of this recipe that is so beguiling: creamy, rich, flavorful but simple. I'd planned to use leftovers for other recipes but think I'll just keep eating them in broth - so good. I used Jacob's Cattle beans that I brought back from Maine almost two years ago and they cooked up perfectly. (Almost to the end of the 17 pounds of dried beans I toted home! :-)) I followed the recipe pretty closely for this first attempt but am looking forward to trying rosemary and parmesan next time.
 
B. H. January 11, 2021
In short these were terrible! After cooking according to the recipe(soaking over night, cooking on top of the stove then in the oven) the beans were underdone and tasteless. So in an effort to save them I added the rind of parmigiana, red pepper flakes, black pepper, bacon, roasted onions and carrot, and finally chicken bouillon. Then let it cook in the oven for a full four hours at 335 degrees. Now at least they are eatable. This recipe is going in the garbage.
 
MacGuffin January 11, 2021
I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. I won't do beans any other way now.
 
Jamie N. January 23, 2021
I add a bunch of stuff to mine too. All depending on the type of bean. I believe the point (I could be wrong) of this recipe is a base for creamy, perfectly done beans (Not necessarily flavor wise but a better quality of bean helps). Mine also take longer that an hour and 15 minutes. I’m guessing it’s because 1) my oven sucks, and 2) I have very hard water. I just check them at 1.25hrs if not done check back every 15 minutes until they are. I add all my “extra” ingredients right before I put in the oven and they turn out perfect every time. And I will say, I just discovered this recipe in the last month but I’ve made 3 different kinds of beans already! I’m addicted! The parm rind and sage make it for me but the texture is key! Please try again:)
 
MacGuffin January 23, 2021
I agree. Sometimes I'm inclined to add stuff (maybe onions) to this basic recipe but it's all about the texture. Even if I need cooked beans for another recipe, e.g. pasta e fagioli, I use this method to cook the beans.
 
Elissa February 1, 2021
I’ve read that if one’s dried beans are past their prime they’ll never soften no matter how much they’re cooked. Give it another try with fresher beans; you won’t be sorry!
 
Susan S. February 7, 2021
You must have had some really old beans! I make these at least once a month and they always come out great.
 
Jan January 3, 2021
So I followed the directions and my beans never softened either, and I may have put in too much water.. but it occurred to me that the bean issue might be my water. I'm on a well and I think the water is hard. Beans were fresh and I cooked in the oven for over 2 hrs. I wonder if that was the issue for others whose beans didn't soften? May have to try again with distilled water.. recipe sounded great!
 
MacGuffin January 3, 2021
May I make a recommendation? Go to the Rancho Gordo site, look for Mixteca Salt, then get on the waiting list because it's sold out. Use as directed and I guarantee you'll see a difference. It sounds like your water could use a good pinch.
 
Jan January 3, 2021
thank you! I just signed up to be notified.. definitely sounds like it might do the trick!
 
MacGuffin January 3, 2021
An enthusiastic thumbs-up! Check out their other stuff as well and make sure you come back to let us know how it worked out for you. They have some terrific stuff!
 
Jan January 3, 2021
I will! I've heard of them, but never ordered- have to remedy that!
 
MacGuffin January 3, 2021
Go through all of their beans, including those that are wait-listed. Sign up for what looks interesting--you won't regret it.
 
MacGuffin January 23, 2021
The Mixteca, along with their other salts, should be back in stock in March. Their salts are all out of stock but check out the Ancient Salts trio when they're available--the Mixteca is included and the other two salts are fun to play with. Check out the site again.
 
Jan January 23, 2021
Thanks! I've been popping in occasionally on the site, but glad to hear a potential date of restock.. holding out on cooking beans until then :-)
 
MacGuffin March 14, 2021
No Mixteca yet but a visit might be worth your while.
 
Jan March 14, 2021
LOL I've been keeping track of it, especially now that it's March! I keep entering my email to be notified- probably annoying them... I think to do beans but then have had so many poor attempts that I'm anxiously awaiting the Mixteca salt before trying again.
 
MacGuffin March 14, 2021
Stock up on some interesting beans now; you can cook them when the Mixteca/salt trio come/s back in stock.
 
Jan March 15, 2021
Good point.. just ordered a selection of beans, and put my name on several of the waitlisted beans.. NOW I'll just need the Mixteca!
 
MacGuffin March 15, 2021
BINGO!!!
I got a Bean Club membership this time 'round. I managed to get one for my cousin's daughter (IOW my first once-removed), too. Get on the wait list for next time if you find the Mixteca is working for you.
 
Jamie N. January 1, 2021
What a brilliant recipe! I adore beans and I make pinto beans on I regular basis. First soupy, then drained, mashed and refried the leftovers and I’ve always used the instant pot. Or braised white beans on the stove. This method is fantastic! I always end up with beans too mushy in instant pot or have some hard ones on stovetop. Thanks to the reviews for this I’ve learned so much about every method. With this recipe I used navy beans with a parm rind, a chopped white onion, an herb bouquet of rosemary, oregano, and a sage leaf (it’s what I had). I also threw in some crushed red pepper, big flaky sea salt and when it’s done with a squirt of lemon or vinegar. I tasted them already and I cannot wait until they’re done!!! 🙏🏻
 
Bill I. December 30, 2020
This sounds really tasty. I'm a big fan ham and beans and have to think this would be great with the added sodium/smoked pork flavor of some diced ham. Has anyone tried it this way ... or if not, any thoughts?
 
Smaug December 31, 2020
You could put pretty much anything you want in- I make several mixed bean dishes (sort-of cassoulet, RB&R etc.) with long ingredient lists this way. Large amounts of acid should probably be avoided; don't remember what current opinion on this is, but people have been avoiding it for a long time. Smoked meat of any sort with beans of any sort is pretty much always a winner. Or just smoke- liquid smoke, a greatly misunderstood product, added to the soaking water is a good way to go, or you could use something like smoked paprika or chipotles if you're a vegetarian.
 
Jamie N. January 1, 2021
It would be so great with some salt pork or pork jowl. Or any pork with a bit of fat really. I make beans with pork as a flavor builder all the time and they’re wonderful! Hope that helps!
 
LadyVigilant March 15, 2021
Yes, I made ham bone stock from 1 ham shank and substituted the stock for water. The ham meat from the shank was added back to the beans and two bunches of collard greens. I made this recipe into soup with extra ham stock and made fresh cornbread. A good friend of mine said it was the best soup she had ever eaten. I love it as the recipe is written as well. Depends on the time of year and my mood.
 
R S. November 25, 2020
I have recently been using this technique for preparing beautifully cooked Royal Corona Beans. Let me preface this by saying that I cook dried beans often but in the past monitoring the cooking of these large beans on the stovetop was less than satisfactory. My old method usually resulted in broken beans which were still not as tender as desired. This method has resulted in great beans. Another key suggestion is to soak the beans for a long time. I LOVE Rachel's Method! Truly Genius
 
Susan S. November 8, 2020
Best way to make beans ever! I use my chicken bone broth and sage. Also another clove or two. I eat it in a shallow bowl with a poached egg on top and fresh warm crusty bread. Yuuum!
 
Annie C. October 28, 2020
Tried this method with chickpeas and it worked really well: I added maybe 5 or 10 minutes to the cooking time after soaking them overnight (are you supposed to leave them to soak in the fridge?? I always just leave them on the countertop, but have read recipes that say otherwise).
 
rubyk1944 September 5, 2020
Lucy D. Great additions!! Can’t wait to have the beans again. After my first baking the beans, I made more and shared with the neighbors. I’m now a rock star with my friends. !!
 
Lucy D. September 5, 2020
I agree, Ruby, these beans are rockstar-share worthy! I’m making another batch in the morning to share with my daughter....I like a squeeze of fresh lemon as I’m eating them, makes a nice bright contrast with the creaminess.
 
Lucy D. September 5, 2020
This recipe is a winner! And I appreciate all the user comments that inspire me to make it to my own liking. Being a flavor hound, I amped it up by adding 6 garlic cloves, some peeled some not. In the future I’ll peel all cloves and then scoop them out to mash and reincorporate. I worked with the herbs I had on hand, so a rosemary sprig and several each of lemon thyme and English thyme, and two large bay leaves. I used about four cups of vegetable broth and then topped off with water, then dropped in two Parmesan rinds. These are some of the best, creamiest, tastiest beans I’ve ever had, and so simple to make! I did salt at the beginning and again at the end. My whole house smelled amazing and I could hardly wait to eat these beauties! They took about two hours in my Dutch oven in a 335 oven after about a nine hour soak. A small bowl of beans topped with black pepper, shaved parm and a drizzle of good olive oil felt so decadent, but actually so nutritious and delicious, I kept going back for a little more, and a little more...l.will keep this on repeat!
 
Anne W. August 21, 2020
Wonderful dish and definitely genius!
 
anna August 17, 2020
I don't know what I did wrong, but my beans were not cooked. I only made half a pound, cooked in oven for 1 hour and 15 ,min after over night soak cooking them on stove top now. Hope they turn out to not be a waste. darn
 
MacGuffin August 17, 2020
How much longer did you let them go in the oven before you transferred them to the stove?
 
SageDawn August 17, 2020
So sorry Anna that this did not work for you. If the little white beans are freshly dried; look at date on the package, they should cook fairly fast. But I have had older beans that seemed to never get tender, even after very lengthy cooking times. Your beans probably simply need to cook longer. Each batch of beans can vary. I always cook my Perauno beans for at least 2 and 1/2 hours to 3 in the oven. Just check a few and if not yet to your liking cook longer until they are. Good Luck and Happy cooking.
 
Jewel$ December 26, 2020
Anna, do you by chance live in a high elevation? If yes, things can take substantially longer. It's best to bake at a lower temperature for longer. Maybe your beans were a type that just need more time. Curious what the instructions were on the package. Hope they turned out after you stove-top cooked them. Maybe, like me, this just isn't a recipe that works for you.
 
curpo July 27, 2020
I wanted to like these but these had zero flavor at all. I put so much salt in them to try and get some flavor and even that didn't work. I like subtle flavors but no flavor is a little too subtle.
 
MacGuffin July 27, 2020
Didn't the olive oil have flavor?
 
Brigitte B. July 27, 2020
Did you use olive oil ? I put a head of the garlic in mine , I used twice Lima beans soaked for 12 hours the skin comes right off than I cover just above the beans et bake it ....the beans are so creamy they look like a creamy soup . Than when I eat it I add sometimes roasted vegetables or I quick sautéed Swiss chard , arugula or spinach..they are very versatile the taste is amazing ..what beans did you use . Try Lima beans and don’t skip the olive oil add a whole head of garlic , than smash ! It’s so easy sky is the limit once they are baked ..I hope you give it another try with Lima beans .
 
Jewel$ December 26, 2020
I agree curpo, I wanted to like them and thought it would be an easier way to make beans. Mine had zero flavour, too. I tried a second time tonight using a recipe I have for pinto beans, and even with the addition of parsley, oregano and onion, they still lacked flavour. So disappointed. I did not use heirloom or organic beans, just beans I've used 1,000 times with great results. Oh well...
 
MacGuffin December 26, 2020
That's sad. This method produces the best beans I've ever had. Did you salt your water when you pre-soaked?
 
DPAltstatt July 18, 2020
I can't imagine ever making beans differently! Dried beans have almost never cooperated with me - until now. I didn't have any fresh herbs (I live in the desert and they're not exactly in abundance) so I put some dried rosemary and thyme in a tea strainer and floated that. I also added an extra clove of garlic because, garlic. I've already had two bowls and am contemplating whether a third would make me a glutton...
 
Brigitte B. July 27, 2020
It’s so funny I am a very good cook ! This recipe is so simple you are wondering if it’s going to be good ...but I have made this 3 times and I make it every week ...I can believe I actually crave this recipe . I add an entire garlic head and Lima beans are my favorite once they are soaked I peel them the skin comes right off it takes 5 minutes ..
 
MacGuffin August 17, 2020
I can't imagine doing them any other way now. I have found, though (despite being a garlic lover), that using too much garlic kinda blunts the beans' own flavor. I feel comfortable enough now to start playing with the seasoning.
 
Claudine A. July 7, 2020
Has anyone made these with canned beans? If so, please let me know your modifications.
 
2tattered July 7, 2020
Why would you? Canned beans are already cooked!

But I guess you could drain them, sauté some garlic and sage in olive oil, and then add the beans to warm through. Sure, why not?
 
Claudine A. July 7, 2020
I wouldn’t typically but it’s what I have on hand.
 
2tattered July 7, 2020
Give it a go, and let us know!
 
Claudine A. July 7, 2020
Will do. Thank you!
 
Brigitte B. July 7, 2020
Why do you want to use can beans , you won’t get the same results . The beans need to be cooked for 1h 30 minutes ..i used Lima beans I soaked them all night the next day I take the skin off it just slide right off than I add 2 heads of garlic . I love it so much I bake it once a week.
 
Claudine A. July 7, 2020
I wouldn’t typically but it’s what I have on hand.
 
Claudine A. July 8, 2020
I ended up making this with canned beans — it’s what I had on hand — and it was delicious! I followed step 2 as listed and they came out great! If this is how good these turned out using canned beans, I can’t wait to try this recipe as originally written with dry beans!
 
Claudine A. July 9, 2020
You’re welcome!
 
MacGuffin August 17, 2020
You won't go back to canned unless you need to have them to just toss into a salad or some such.
 
MacGuffin July 5, 2020
I decided to try this with some decidedly past-their-prime Yellow Eye beans from Rancho Gordo that I'd forgotten about. Except for using only a half-bag (which is what I had), I followed the instructions (including seasonings) exactly but let them go for two hours. I've never been able to make beans with this texture before, and I've been cooking for at least 55 years. I just need to get the liquid right--I have a tendency to add too much water. However, the bean broth was delicious. One of my friends imports high-end EVOO, so I used his Tuscany offering.
 
kenru June 28, 2020
Holy Smokes! I have never had a better bean dish! Thank you so much. You now have us thinking on variations to include a Mexican Bean Soup (pinto beans) and others. The richness of the beans is incredible and unmatched. I might garnish with a little parsley and certainly cilantro for the mexican variation.