Serena J. Cavanaugh :: Blog

November 5, 2009

The Perfect Dish for a Cold Autumn Day

Filed under: Food & Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , , — serena @ 10:04 am

Cannellini Beans

Today I decided to make cannellini beans.


“What?” you might ask. “Don’t you just buy those in a can?”


Well, you can do that, or you can buy them dried and spend a couple hours immersed in the fragrant aroma of simmering beans, garlic and herbs. Two hours of simmering is perfect for cold days liketoday. I can barely stand to leave the steam-warmed kitchen. It’s so much more pleasing to hover over the pot and warm my fingers while I stir the beans than to freeze in front of my cold computer.


But the pleasure of preparing this dish is just one of many perks to this versatile legume. In these hard times, you’ll be happy to know they are completely cost effective. A typical bag of dried cannellini beans cost under $2 for a pound which makes about 6 cups. Compare this to a can, which yields under 2 cups at about the same cost.


Sure, you might have to invest a little prep time, but the payoff is worth it. Cannellini beans are high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and teeming with possibility. With a one pound bag you’ll have a week’s worth of delicious opportunity.


You can eat them just plain as a side dish with a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of olive oil (at least the way they are prepared here) or add them to a soup or salad, or blend them into a delicious spread for crackers or crostini. Better yet, with a whole batch, you can do all three and then some.


Tonight, I’m adding a few cups of the beans and the water they simmered in to a light tomato sauce to serve over sweet Italian sausages.


Tomorrow, I’ll blend them with their cooking liquid in the food processor for a yummy and healthy vegetable dip to pack in the kids’ lunches.


You can get the recipe for the beans and several recipes for what to do with them at, or the October 2009 Issue of Bon Appetit Magazine where Lori De Mori provides the original recipe and four things to do with it. They are all truly delicious! Or you can get it here – my very slightly adapted version. Once I figure out the details for the spread, I’ll post it here, so come again!


Cannellini Beans


1 lb of dried white beans

1 large sprig of your favorite herb, such as rosemary, sage, or thyme and or a small sprig of each

1 head of unpeeled garlic – the whole head, not a clove

olive oil

1/4 tsp whole peppercorns

salt and pepper


Rinse the beans and soak in them over night in enough water to cover them.


Pour about 9 cups of water in a large pot, add beans, peppercorns, a whole head of garlic, unpeeled with the top half cut off, and a big sprig of your favorite fresh herb, such as sage, rosemary, or thyme. You can also combine all three, which I recommend. Add two tablespoons of a strong flavored olive oil and bring the pot to a slow simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered for about 1 ½ hours or more, stirring gently once in a while so as not to smash the beans, and adding enough water to keep the beans covered.


Once the beans are tender to the teeth and have no chalky texture, add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes more. Let the beans cool in the broth. The cooking liquid is full of flavor, so don’t throw it out. Instead, use it for sauces and soups.


Store the beans in the cooking liquid in the refrigerator and enjoy over the next few days in as many ways as you can!


Note: Do not, I beg you, add salt before the beans are fully cooked and tender. You will make them tough and chalky by doing so. Also, control the rowdiness of the simmer — if it gets out of control, the beans will break and/or the skin will toughen. The simmer has to be as gentle as a whisper.




  1. Thank You Serena! I commented on two blogs now. To those who love beans this is a great recipe we loved it. To those who aren’t fans of cannellini beans give them another chance.

    Comment by Stacey Masetti — November 6, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  2. serena, you never fail to amaze me. I will try this for the twins if nothing else. this sounds like a healthy way to get a lot of fiber into them. They are natural veggie lovers so it might be easy for their taste bubs. they sure have healthy eating habbits and this is low $$ so thanks a bunch and twins thank you too

    Comment by sarah — November 6, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  3. Thanks Sarah! And they’ll get their protein too. I almost want to make it staple in the house — just always have the dried beans on hand, you know? I just made the dip/spread today and it’s so good with crackers.

    Comment by serena — November 7, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  4. Stacey, you are so very welcome. People, give peace, beans, and blogs a chance!

    Comment by serena — November 8, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

  5. The cocking liquid is full of flavor huh? yummy

    Comment by daffy — November 19, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  6. Not only flavor, daffy, but protein and lots of it! Yum!
    On a serious note, thanks for notifying me of the typo…

    Comment by serena — November 21, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

  7. You know, I’ve never known what to do with dried beans. Thanks for posting this! I’ll give it a try. :)

    Comment by Rachel — January 6, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  8. Rachel — they are so easy and so cheap. You’ll love them.

    Comment by Serena — January 6, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

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