Italian cannellini beans are among the most flavorful of all legumes. They are creamy, nutritious and have been the foundation for plant-based cooking for hundreds of years. Opening a can of beans might be the easiest way of using this legendary legume but by no means the best. We encourage you to by pass the can opener and and cut open a hermetically sealed bag of beans to experience the true aroma and rustic, nutty flavor of the cannellini. Cooking with dried beans allows you to choose the texture you like and how to flavor them and this is a definite plus when it comes to using this ingredient.
However most home cooks don't really know how to cook a cannellini and whether soaking them for hours or overnight and then boiling them for a good amount of time really makes a difference in the end product. Most bean experts agree - dried beans need a lot of attention. But here is a way I have found to cut out a few steps that make the preparation of the cannellini a quicker cook. There are a few on-line sites that offer tips on how to do this. The method I use is posted on a site called Delishably. It's called How to Quick Cook White Beans Without Soaking. I use dried artisan Italian cannellini beans from Umbria because nothing compares to the generational cultivation of these beans in quality, flavor and aroma. You can definitely taste the difference. It's like being in an Italian kitchen in the countryside. Here is the method.
Put 1 lb of dried beans in a pot. Cover with 8 cups of cold water. Place on stove on "high" setting. Soon the beans will be moving and float to the top. Wait until the beans are in a rolling boil. Boil 2 minutes. Take off heat and put a lid on the pot. Let sit for at least 20-30 minutes. Drain water off beans and rinse them in cold water. Your beans are now ready to use in any recipe calling for "soaked beans."
To fully cook beans for puree or other recipes which call for canned cannellini beans, add cold water to drained beans. Cover them by at least 1 inch of water. Do not add any salt yet, because that can prevent beans from softening. Put them back on the stove and heat until they are simmering. Cook for 1-2 hours, or until soft. Then add salt and flavorings if desired.
Note: alternatively, you can finish quick-cooked beans in a crockpot on low overnight or all day, or on high for 4-5 hours.