FAGIOLI ALL’OLIO E SALVIA (Tuscan white beans with olive oil and sage, for six)
1 pound (about 2-1/4 cups) dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 large clove garlic, minced
1. Either place the beans in a bowl with water to cover them by 2 inches and let them soak overnight, or “quick soak” them by bringing 5 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large bean pot or saucepan, adding the beans, and cooking them for exactly 2 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak, covered, for exactly one hour, then drain. Rinse under cold water and, if you are not going to proceed immediately, leave beans in cold water to cover until you are ready to use them.
2. Drain beans and return them to the pot. Add 6 cups cold water, oil, sage and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing).
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl, top with more olive oil and a sage sprig as garnish.
adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, May, 2000