Sometimes, you’re just in the mood. My family and I love beans, especially cannelloni beans, which we always soak overnight before cooking them. We use the pre-soaking method because although good for you, beans have the unfortunate side effect of causing the formation of gas. Soaking reduces gas-producing compounds. The reason beans are soaked overnight is to break down some of the complex sugars that make beans hard for some to digest. For as long as I can remember, my family has always used the soaking method. We discard the soaking water and by doing so you are getting rid of up to 80% of the sugar molecule that causes flatulence. You can also add a bay leaf when cooking the beans because they too are known to have gas-reducing properties, which is then discarded after the beans are cooked.
Years ago, practically every family in small towns in the outskirts of Naples had a pot called La Pignata (clay pot) or as they say in Naples, "O' Pignat". They were used to slow cook everything from beans to stews to ragu’s and soups. It was part of “La Cucina Antica” - the ancient way of cooking and are still fairly common in Italy. Beans are cooked by adding the soaked beans to the pot followed by cold water covering the beans 2 to 3 inches and then placing the pot in a wood fire oven and allowing them to cook for a few hours. Salt is always added at the end. This was done often because beans could be utilized in so many different ways. I wish we could all cook beans in this traditional way because the taste is quite different. We recommend you use a dutch oven when cooking beans.
White Bean Dip Recipe
Yields: 1 cup
1/2 cup cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds (optional)
Transfer beans to a two-quart Dutch oven and cover with fresh water. There should be about 2 inches of water above the beans. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender but still keep their shape. Add salt when beans are finished cooking.
Drain beans and remove bay leaf, reserving bean liquid.
Using a food processor or vitamixer, combine beans, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend to a creamy consistency, using reserved cooking liquid if necessary. Transfer from processor to a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Garnish before serving with extra virgin olive oil and roasted sesame. Serve with gluten-free toasted pita, crackers or crudite!