You'll Want to Put These Super-Creamy Beans on Everything

braised beans
Photo Credit: Kristin Teig

Sheela Prakash

If you’re not convinced that beans should be part of your regular routine, this recipe may persuade you. Intensely creamy, deeply-flavored, and almost entirely hands-off, these braised beans make a humble and homey main dish, a super-satisfying side, and leftovers you’ll look forward to.

How to Make Intensely Creamy, Deeply-Flavored Beans

I’m the first to admit: There’s great reward in dried beans. The texture, flavor, and nutritional value are superior to that of canned beans. But, there’s just no arguing with the convenience of canned beans. And the truth is, beans in any form are a good source of fiber, plant-based protein, and vitamins and minerals. Plus, rinsing canned beans removes 41% of the sodium (on average). In fact, the simple process of rinsing beans makes them a close second to dried beans in terms of energy, protein, fiber, and more.

That still leaves texture and flavor. But, there’s a trick to making canned beans taste closer to the dried variety. Simply braise beans in olive oil infused with lots of garlic and a few sage leaves. This one step transforms canned beans into something otherworldly, intensely creamy, and deeply-flavored.

For a super-rustic, super-cozy dinner, spoon beans on top of thick-sliced toast. The next day, serve leftovers over greens, sliced tomatoes, or roasted vegetables for lunch. Or, toss them with cooked brown rice for a simple grain salad. You can even puree what’s left to use as a creamy sauce for pasta, thinning it as needed with a splash or two of pasta cooking water.

Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food (Harvard Common Press, September 2020).

Creamy Olive-Oil Braised White Beans

  • Serves: 4 to 6
  • Total Time:45 minutes
  • Active Time:5 minutes
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Ingredients

  • 2 (15-ounce, or 425 g) canswhite beans, such as cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes(optional)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Place the white beans, garlic, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, several grinds of black pepper, and the red pepper flakes (if using), in a 9 x13-inch baking dish. Pour in the olive oil and gently stir to combine.
  3. Tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook, stirring halfway through, until the white beans are soft but not falling apart and the mixture is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vinegar and let cool for 5 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.