The best way to cook white beans is with plenty of sage and the best olive oil you can afford. This is one place where the true fruity flavor of good oil matters.
- 1 lb. (2½ cups) dried navy or cannellini beans
- 1 medium onion, halved
- 1 head garlic, split in half
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place beans in a heavy pot with enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil, then strain beans and return to pot. Add fresh water to cover.
Add onion halves, garlic, 6 of the sage leaves, peppercorns, and ½ cup of the olive oil. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
Cool beans, uncovered, in their cooking liquid. Strain. Remove and discard peppercorns. Transfer beans to a mixing bowl. Chop remaining 2 sage leaves and stir into beans, along with remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.