Beans are best simply boiled and, if being served hot, lightly buttered or flavored with extra virgin olive oil. A nice variation is to toss the hot beans with herb butters, such as parsley butter or chervil or chive butter. Virtually any dried bean will work for this recipe. Part of the fun of cooking beans is experimenting with all the (sometimes brightly colored) varieties.
– 2 cups dried beans such as great Northern, navy, borlotti, or canellini.
– 1 onion, peeled, split in two lengthwise.
– Bouquet garni.
– 1 teaspoon salt.
– 8 tablespoons butter, herb butter, or extra virgin olive oil, to taste.
Step 1:Soak the beans in enough cold water to cover by several inches for 4 hours and drain. Put them in a pot or pressure cooker with about 2 quarts of water, the onion, bouquet garni, and salt and simmer for 30 minutes in the pressure cooker or 90 minutes to 3 hours (depending on the variety of bean and its age) in a regular pot. If using a regular pot, check them from time to time and add water as needed to keep it from running dry. Try to coordinate the beans being done with the pot running out of extra liquid. If the beans are done before the liquid has all evaporated, drain the beans in a colander over a pan, boil the liquid down to a couple of tablespoons, and add it back to the beans. Pick out the onion and bouquet garni and discard. Toss the beans with the butter or olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.