I am currently cooking my way through “Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy” by Judith Barrett. Since dried beans are the basis for so many salads, soups and entrees, I was interested in which fresh garden herbs Italians traditionally use to flavor dried beans during the initial cooking period.
The general idea is to soak the bean of choice overnight, then drain, rinse and add fresh water, herbs, & sea salt, and simmer slowly until done. Beans are usually stored in the fridge with their cooking liquid until used in another recipe Here’s a summary of what herbs go with which bean in the initial step:
White beans (cannellini, navy, great northern) — sage only, sage & whole garlic clove, bay leaf only, whole garlic cloves with bay leaf, or rosemary.
Cannellini only: Rosemary alone or rosemary & garlic are good, as is sage and garlic. Cannellini are also good with fresh marjoram.
Chick Peas — bay leaf goes surprisingly well with chickpeas, and lots of Italian chick pea recipes call for bay leaves during the initial cooking period. Cynthia Rafferty’s bay leaf tree is a good source in the garden. Sage and garlic are good alternatives to bay leaves. Rosemary and garlic also go well with chick peas.
Split and Skinned Favas (available at Claudio’s in the Italian Market) — bay leaf
Red Kidney beans go well with bay leaves and garlic
Lima – sage
Dried beans in general– Summer savory