Tuscan white beans with thyme
Whether you cook vegetarian or not, well cooked beans from scratch are good to have in your cooking repertoire. This simple bean dish using fresh thyme from my garden is an easy way to cook them and yields a dish that has lot of flavour.
True, beans are not a quick fix because they require soaking. To soak or not to soak, that is the question. I have heard and read that you can do it either way. Many cooks in Mexico, where they use a lot of beans do not soak their beans, but then, even their dry beans are still pretty fresh and from my experience there cook in no time. In my kitchen here in Canada where the dry beans we get are really dry, I soak them overnight.
I usually cook a pot of beans and keep them in a mason jar in the fridge so they are ready to use or incorporate into whatever dishes I may be making. They also freeze well, either fully cooked or just after you soak them.
If I am trying to speed up the process I cook the beans in a pressure cooker (mine is a sleek Fissler stove top model) but have to be careful not to over cook them.
2 cups white beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
A handful of fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
4 cups good flavour stock
Salt and pepper
Thyme leaves for garnish
Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl with plenty of water to cover them by a couple of inches. The next day drain and rinse.
Heat up the oil in a large pot (I use le Creuset enamelled cast iron), add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant.
Add the beans and thyme and mix with the onion.
Add the stock to cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at a simmer until the beans are cooked through, about an hour, depending in the beans. Add more stock as needed to keep the beans just submerged.
When the beans are ready add salt and pepper to taste and more fresh thyme leaves.
Use as is or incorporate into other dishes.