How to cook beans


In Florence, there are stores called “Civaioli” that are dedicated to selling only beans or other legumes. The quality of garbanzo and cannellini beans is a real sense of pride for marketplace shop owners, who by lunch time have them ready to buy and bring home. While they may often go unnoticed, there are huge differences between dried beans, even of the same species.

The next time you are in the market, a good way to decipher the quality of the bean is the origin and freshness of the bean. Beans from Italy are typically of higher quality. There are several D.O.Ps in Italy for beans, which means they are held to very strict quality standards by the Italian government. If you’re lucky, you can get your hands on some of these.

This recipe is valid for both cannellini and Garbanzo beans. Just cook the chickpeas 1 hour longer.  

1 lb dried chick peas

1 gallon of water

1 bunch of sage

1 head of garlic

1 fresh tomato

2 tablespoons of salt

2 tablespoons evoo


  1. Rinse the sage, tomato and chick peas in fresh water. 
  2. Slice off the head of the garlic, but keep it whole. 
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, including the cold water. Everything will be whole at this stage - whole garlic, whole sage, whole tomato - everything. 
  4. Bring the water to boil and then lower the temperature until the water looks as if it’s barely boiling. 
  5. Allowing the dish to cook at a low boil prevents the chick peas from peeling. 
  6. Both the chick peas and cannellini beans cook for about two hours or until soft. 
  7. Use a perforated spoon to serve the beans so that the rest can stay in the flavorful water. 

*Lowering temp of boiling used to be achieved by cooking “al fiasco’. People used to combine all the ingredients inside a glass flask and nestle it within the warm ashes of a fireplace. They would leave it overnight to cook and by morning the beans were cooked perfectly and breakfast was ready.