Gah, my mouth starts watering whenever I think of these beans. These look innocuous, but they are heady with garlic and deeply savory with rosemary and pepper flakes. I sometimes can't believe how good they are considering that they're made with things that are usually just lying around! Pure magic.
The beans pictured here are Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo. I love how these beans plump up when you cook them and how densely creamy they are on the inside, but you can make this with any cooked beans or canned beans you have around. You could simply add them to the oil with the garlic and cook until they're heated through, but I like taking them a little further so that some become golden and a little crispy on the outside. That's when things really start to get good.
After that, you can remove them from the heat and serve them straight from the pan as is, or give them another pinch of flaky salt and a squeeze of lemon for a bit of a lift (which is highly recommended!). If you can't stop eating them, then you know you've achieved perfection.
serves 2-4 as a side
This recipe easily scales up, but I wouldn't bother scaling it down, as the beans make fantastic leftovers when added to pasta or salads, or served with eggs. You can even make a slice of toast, top it with a few slices of avocado, add the beans and a fried egg and have a very respectable breakfast or brunch dish.
How to simply cook dried beans: place your beans in a large bowl and soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse your beans to remove any grit, and put them in a large pot with plenty of cold water and a single bay leaf. Bring the water and beans to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover, cooking until the beans are no longer mealy and taste creamy, but not so long that they turn to mush (I start checking my beans 30-45 minutes after they started cooking, but the timing can vary greatly depending on the age of your beans). Once the beans are cooked, remove from heat, uncover, and let cool in their cooking water (this helps to keep them intact). Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 pound Good Mother Stallard beans (or other beans that hold their shape once cooked), cooked, OR 2 cans cannellini beans
A generous glug (two tablespoons) olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic (or more, no need to limit yourself!), thinly sliced
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large pinch aleppo pepper flakes OR 1 small pinch standard red pepper flakes
Flaky salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat until it begins to shimmer and can easily be swirled around the pan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds or until it begins to turn translucent and smells really, really good (don't let it brown here). Add the pepper flakes and rosemary, cook (stirring) for a few more seconds, and then add the beans. Stir everything together, raise heat to medium, and then let cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, the garlic is turning golden, and a few of the beans are beginning to turn crispy.
Remove from the heat, strip the leaves from the rosemary, and stir the leaves back into the beans. Finish with a generous pinch of flaky salt and a good squeeze of lemon, and serve immediately.
Note that if you use canned beans, you may have to stir them more gently while cooking, as canned beans have a greater tendency to fall apart when cooked in this way. But beans that have fallen apart make excellent bean mash, which is a lovely thing on its own, so it's not any tragedy should this happen to you.