5 Ingredients or Fewer

Rich & Creamy Beans From Rachel Roddy

May 25, 2021
64 Ratings
Photo by Kristen Miglore
  • Prep time 10 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 8
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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What You'll Need
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Rich & Creamy Beans From Rachel Roddy
  • 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
  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.

  • Debra
  • Nicolecooks2
  • Picholine
  • Alex Gabriel
    Alex Gabriel
  • Karen Brooks
    Karen Brooks
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

248 Reviews

mac November 29, 2023
If you want to try something different, I found a way to take this in an Asian-fusion direction:

-Baby Limas
-Peanut Oil with a little bit of toasted sesame oil
-Garlic like usual
-I usually use salt during the cooking process but may give soy sauce a try as a substitute sometime in the future.
-Once the beans are cooked, whisk in a nice glob of miso paste.
-Toss in shredded Napa cabbage or Bok Choy
-Sprinkle on chopped scallions and drizzle with chili crisp or Sriracha.
Debra November 7, 2023
Making these beans for about the 15th time. Topping with a couple of grilled lamb chops. I always add fresh rosemary and lots more garlic. The beauty of this recipe is changing to your own tastes and finding a new way to enjoy!
Kathy November 3, 2023
Gadszooks!!! These are awesome! I added rosemary, that's it. Everything else as listed.
They are so good.
These will a staple.
Trish October 16, 2023
I cannot believe how deliciously perfect these are. I used Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca beans and cooked them exactly as written. They are so good, I found myself eating a bowl as soon as they were done with a big handful of spinach wilted in the steaming garlicky broth at… 7:30 am!
Debra November 7, 2023
Did you cook the beans by the bean package instructions or by the recipe? Thanks!
Caroline October 15, 2023
Oh my, these are the best beans ever! I haven’t cooked beans in decades, I just had a hard time sine moving to Calgary, but these are divine. I used Great Northern as I had some and reduced the cooking time by 15 minutes I used them to make soup and will be try this way with all kinds of beans.
less T. October 15, 2023
This was awesome! I doubled the garlic cloves, well, maybe even added a few more than that. Threw in half an onion. I was surprised at how incredibly tasty this was. Grateful for the recipe. I love it when what comes out of the oven is worthy...I used Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca beans (and they held up). Soaked for two hours. Oven at 350. Ready in about an hour 45. I did add a cup of water and a lil more salt midway...
Jan G. October 8, 2023
I always forget to soak so I just let them cook an additional 30 min! They are SO worth it💕
Nicolecooks2 October 7, 2023
Not sure this recipe is worth the time. After a 10.5 hour soak, beans took close to 3 hours in the oven with a meh result. I used them the next day, simmered with parmesan rind stock, garlic, herbs and lemon zest. They were really good but might have had similar results using canned beans.
GBryan September 17, 2023
Simple and delicious! It is now a go to in my recipe box.
Jan G. June 4, 2023
Best Ever beans!!! Stopped doing on top of stove when I found this recipe! So Dang Good!!! Try it you’ll like them
Picholine April 29, 2023
Enjoy the same day by using your instapot !
Alex G. October 25, 2022
Help! I love this recipe but I noticed gray spots on my cannellini beans and am wondering if they're safe to use. I rinsed them really well and tossed any with a spot on the outside. After soaking them, some have gray on the inside too. Has anyone seen this before? They are a bit old; from an Organic food store. Grown in the U.S.. AS far as I know they haven't got damp. I have a photo; not sure if I can attach.
Alex G. October 25, 2022
I smelled the ones in the bag and they smell musty so I'm chucking them out.
robin L. October 26, 2022
Unfortunately, you probably made the right call to throw them out...
cyndi October 18, 2022
I love this recipe! And I'm not a strayer....I normally follow instructions to the letter. But, I stopped soaking the beans because I keep forgetting to do it. I just add more water and cook in the oven for about 30-45 more in the oven...depending on the kind of beans. I also use dried bay leaves because I never seem to have sage around!
Karen B. August 25, 2022
My go to recipe!
Mollywhistle June 27, 2022
I LOVE this recipe. I use it as a base for a white bean with escarole soup #chefskiss !
Jan G. June 5, 2022
Best, easiest recipe for beans I have ever found! Have given it to all my friends!!!
mac May 30, 2022
Like most other have mentioned I add greens to mine as well.

If you want to take it in an Asian direction: opt for Lima beans or large butter beans. Work in cilantro stems in lieu of sage and maybe a know of ginger with the garlic. Peanut oil to substitute the EVOO. Add bok choy or Napa cabbage for a green ans garnish with a little scallion and Sriracha.
MilletteofSd January 22, 2023
Thank you for these GREAT suggestions.
Kim S. April 25, 2022
I commented on this recipe a few years back, and I'm not bashful about singing it praises. It is still one of my regulars. Sometimes I expand it by stirring in dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale. Paired with a crusty bread or a cheesy baked polenta, and I'm in heaven! Leftovers (if there are any) are easily worked into soups later in the week.

PS, it doesn't have to be white beans (cannellini or navy), but those do work best (with the exception of garbanzo/chickpea/ceci which will fight to hold their toothiness). The lighter-colored beans (pinto, cranberry, black-eyed pea) and the black bean seem to work best as alternates in this recipe. The red beans (light or dark kidney, adzuki, mung) still become luscious, but the skins are tougher, in my experience, and the color is not as appealing.
MilletteofSd January 22, 2023
Thank you so much Kim. I will make note of your suggestions. I’m always buying marinated beans for salads and this recipe is a quick alternate.
MilletteofSd January 22, 2023
Lastly, after the beans are cooked & cooled, how fo you store them, with or without the braising liquid? Thanks, Millette
Kim S. January 22, 2023
I store them in the liquid. I've found the beans can dry out if stored drained (not that they often last that long in my fridge). Saving both the beans and the braising liquid provides more versatility in using the leftovers. The liquid is good on its own for dipping bread, to add a flavor punch to a soup, or as the beginnings of a marinade.
MilletteofSd January 23, 2023
Hi Kim. Thank you so much for the reply and I’m also thankful for the suggestions of using bean broth, I love soups, so another added bonus. Best regards, Millette
Debra April 25, 2022
I found this recipe a little while back and it has become one of my favorite comfort foods. The best part, it’s delicious any season and any time! I know everyone has their little tweaks, and here is mine. Added fresh rosemary with the sage. I did not have unpeeled garlic so I rolled with double the amount called for of peeled. I removed the beans from the broth and reduced the broth to thicken to my taste. Overall, this recipe is such a keeper and should become a part of any families repertoire! Love, love love it:)
capybara February 1, 2022
What happened to needing to boil beans vigorously for 10 minutes to destroy harmful lectins please?
MacGuffin February 1, 2022
You’re thinking of phytohemagglutinin, which is a specific lectin; the warning applies to kidney beans.
capybara February 1, 2022
I believe the harmful substance is present in other beans too. https://www.healwithfood.org/chart/lectin-content-beans-high-vs-low.php for example and https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-1342,00.html and this article which is about butter / lima beans https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/beware-of-the-beans-how-beans-can-be-a-surprising-source-of-food-poisoning-931862.html
MacGuffin February 1, 2022
It’s present in most legumes and grains. In general, it’s not a problem; I haven’t read of anyone’s having suffered due to lectin poisoning from, e.g., tomatoes. Phytohemagglutinin specifically, on the other hand, is toxic and is present in large amounts in kidney beans.
You might want to consider that most of us posting here have successfully used this method more than once and have survived to share our experiences. Speaking only for myself, I’ve yet to experience any adverse symptoms.
capybara February 1, 2022
Thanks, I shall certainly consider it! The piece I linked to above in the Independent about lima bean poisoning was very arresting, and scary, given that ambulances were called, and has always stuck in my mind. But thanks for the reassurance.
MacGuffin February 1, 2022
Trust me--if you follow this technique, you’ll not only be fine but will fall in love. GREAT texture and flavor.