- 1 pound dried Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 ‑8 fresh sage leaves or one 3-inch fresh rosemary sprig
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper.
Place the beans in a large bowl with cold water to cover by several inches. Let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or in the refrigerator overnight. Drain the beans and place them in a large slow cooker .
Add water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Add the garlic and herb. Cover and cook the beans on low for 6 hours, or until the beans are tender and creamy. Check occasionally to see that the beans are covered with water. If necessary, add a little more.
Add salt to taste and let stand for 10 minutes. To serve, drain the beans, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with pepper to taste.
Until I tried making beans in a slow cooker, I was never able to duplicate the creamy texture of those I enjoyed in Italy. Now they turn out that way every time. Serve these as a side dish with a juicy steak or roast, use them for soups, or top them with chunks of good tuna canned in olive oil and thin slices of red onion for a tasty and easy appetizer. Soaking is not essential, but I find that this step helps the beans cook more evenly and makes them more digestible. If you don’t soak them, just put the rinsed and sorted beans in the cooker with the water and seasonings and cook them a little longer.
Remember that cooking times will vary according to how fresh the beans are, the kind of cooker you are using, and whether they have been soaked or not. If you have a prosciutto or other ham bone or a piece of the rind, add it to the pot for more flavor.