SERVES 6 – 8
This simple preparation is a favorite way to prepare beans in Tuscany—home of the mangiafagioli, or bean eaters. NOTE: The cooking time for dried beans may vary; older beans often take longer to soften.
1 lb. dried zolfini or cannellini beans
4 tbsp. fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4–5 fresh sage leaves
3–4 whole black peppercorns
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Sort through beans, discarding any small stones; then rinse beans under cold running water. Put beans in a large earthenware casserole, cover with cold water, and set aside to soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Drain beans; then add 12 cups cold water, 2 tbsp. of the oil, garlic, sage, and peppercorns. Cover casserole, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until bean skins are tender and interiors are soft, about 1–2 hours more.
3. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow beans to cool in the cooking liquid. To serve, reheat beans in the liquid over medium-low heat, drain them, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle beans with remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil.