For this salad, Cesare Casella of Beppe in New York City uses only the Tuscan dried beans he imports. He recommends a mixture of beans that is pleasingly varied in color, size, and texture.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 1⁄2 cup each of a variety of 7 dried beans, such as zolfini, scritti, corona, diavoli, sorana, del papa, and coco di mamma, each soaked separately in the refrigerator overnight
- 7 brewing bags or sachets, each filled with 3 cloves peeled garlic, 1 leaf sage, 1 sprig thyme, and 1 sprig rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
- 3 ribs celery, finely diced
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely diced
- Leaves from 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Working in batches if necessary, drain beans and put each variety into a separate small pot. Add 1 sachet to each pot and cover beans with cold water by 3". Cook beans over medium heat until just tender, about 1–2 1⁄2 hours, depending on size and age of beans. Remove pots from heat, season each to taste with salt and pepper, and set beans aside in their cooking liquid to let cool to room temperature.
- Remove and discard sachet from each pot. Drain beans and put them into a large ovenproof bowl. Add tomatoes, celery, onions, parsley, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss until beans are well coated. Cover bowl with heavy duty foil and marinate salad in the refrigerator overnight.
- The following day, preheat oven to 300º. Remove bowl from refrigerator and transfer to oven. Heat salad until just warmed through but not cooked any further, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve salad warm.