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White Beans with Sage

What did we eat with our insanely good Herbed Flatbread? Why, White Beans with Sage, of course! So satisfying in this stupid (as Harry would call it—everything is “stupid” these days, unless it’s “poopy”) weather. Silky, velvety, smooth… scooping them up with torn pieces of flatbread is just the thing to do when it’s too dreary to do much of anything. And using The Paupered Chef’s no-soak method, which I first tried with Frijoles Negros in 90 Minutes, they’re ready in—you guessed it—just about 90 minutes.

Oh, and do yourself a favor: Stop with the supermarket dried beans. Molly Watson’s eye-opening post on just how old they really are came at exactly the right/wrong time, while mine were in the oven. Yup, I feasted on dusty Goya beans that were in all likelihood older than Harry.

White Beans with Sage
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 6-8
Weight Watchers: 6 servings are 11 PointsPlus each; 8 servings are 8 PointsPlus each

1 pound dried navy or cannellini beans
1 medium onion, halved
through the root
1 head garlic, split in half, loose papery peels discarded
2 small sprigs fresh sage leaves, plus 6 more leaves
5 black peppercorns
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Set the oven to 250°F. Place the beans, onion, garlic, sprigs of sage, peppercorns, and 1/4 cup oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the flame, cover the pot, and put it in the oven.
  2. Set a timer for 60 minutes, and check the beans. Odds are they’ll be softening but not cooked, so add some salt and give them 15-20 minutes more and check again, and check again every 15-20 until they’re tender.
  3. Cool the beans, uncovered, in their cooking liquid. Strain, but reserve the liquid—you’ll want that if you use the leftovers for soup or pasta sauce. Remove and discard the large pieces of onion and the peppercorns. Transfer the beans to a mixing bowl. Chop the remaining 6 sage leaves and stir into the beans, along with the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil. Add a little of the cooking liquid if it looks too dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Are you kidding? These are perfect for early eaters! Puree some with a bit of the cooking water, or scatter a handful of cooked beans on the high chair tray and let baby go to town.

P.S. This makes enough beans that you should have abundant leftovers. One night I used some to make a quick pasta sauce (saute some chopped garlic, add about a cup of beans & a bit of the pot liquor, throw in some frozen chopped greens—Whole Foods has nice choices in their 365 Everyday Value line). Tonight I took what beans were left, including all the cooking liquid, and made a vegetable soup (saute chopped garlic & carrot, after a couple minutes add chopped zucchini; drain beans & reserve—add the liquid plus 4-6 cups of broth and/or water to the pot; simmer 10 mins & add 1/2 cup small dry pasta; simmer another 10 & add beans; adjust seasoning; serve with grated Parm).

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. gretchen

    Nursing mamas might want to avoid this one, as sage can inhibit supply. Or, if you're weaning, this is a great dish! 🙂

  2. debbie koenig

    Gretchen, the lactation consultant I interviewed for the cookbook said sage tea will inhibit, but not when it's used in cooking–she assured you'd have to eat A LOT of sage leaves for it to have a real effect. She actually couldn't think of a single food (as opposed to tea/tincture/etc) that will inhibit–only foods that will increase supply. So go ahead, enjoy!

  3. elizabeth behan

    ok, two questions: is consuming sage in a dish OK for pregnant mamas? i'm 31 weeks. and second, could i use chicken broth for this instead of water, for a bit more flavor? thanks!

  4. debbie koenig

    Elizabeth, I'm not a doctor but all my research points to *culinary* herbs being safe–they're used in such small quantities, and you'd need to have quite a concentrated dose to have an effect. And yes, chicken broth would be just fine!

  5. elizabeth Behan

    thanks, debbie, i figured as much, but you never know. i see my midwife tomorrow anyway, and since i'm not planning to make this until the weekend, i'll know for sure. and i just might try that chicken broth… ( ;

  6. Christine

    Ugh, about the canned beans. Had never known that.
    This sounds delicious. I love the idea of sage in white beans.And yes, I agree, culinary amounts of herbs like this should be fine!

  7. debbie koenig

    Christine, I think I was unclear–Molly was talking about the dried beans you'll find in a supermarket. Canned (assuming they're BPA-free) shouldn't be that old. I hope.

    At any rate, I added the word "dried" to the post…

  8. Reidy

    Oh, no! I've been feeling so virtuous cooking my dried beans recently. Though perhaps this is a sign that it's time to add some beans to our just-barely-poking-up sugar snap peas hanging out in front of the playroom window.

  9. sarah henry

    A winning combo.

  10. Reidy

    Just for fun I planted a handful of the dried supermarket beans (navy and black) when we planted our Kentucky Wonder pole beans last week. Our sugar snap and pole beans are thriving. The navy and black beans? Well… Maybe I should invest in seed packets. Not a one poked up.

  11. debbie koenig

    Interesting, Reidy! Though I guess I'm not surprised–being a total gardening virgin, I never would've thought to plant dried beans as seeds! Now I have an experiment to do with Harry…

  12. Anonymous

    Where do you get your dried beans if you don't get them from the supermarket? I'm curious. Thanks.

  13. debbie koenig

    Anon, you can get beans from smaller companies at places like Whole Foods or the farmers' market, and online too– is a pretty prominent grower.

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