I love the regionality of Italy, and traveling from one area to another, you almost feel as though you are visiting different countries. The landscape, dialects, and particularly the cuisine is specific to each and every region. It might surprise some folks to know that Tuscans are more famous for their consumption of beans rather than they are pasta. In fact, Tuscans are affectionately called mangiafagioli, or bean eaters for their large consumption of beans. The beans in Tuscany are creamy and delicious, and unlike any other that I have tasted. In Florence, dining out, you mostly find the cannellini beans or if you are lucky, the rare zolfini bean. Heading outside of Florence, you can find a larger variety of beans on the menu.
Traditionally these beans start out dried and may be soaked overnight to soften them. Beans in Tuscany are cooked in clay pots on the stovetop or oven. Older recipes used a glass wine flask, buried in the ashes of the fireplace. Although that method sounds romantic, it just isn’t practical in today’s kitchen. I have worked for years to perfect the perfect creamy beans, like the ones I enjoy in Tuscany, and I must say that I have had excellent results. In the past, however, it took planning ahead to soak the beans overnight, so cooking beans wasn’t something that I did often enough. Recently, I have been testing out cooking dried beans in my Instant Pot, and I am thrilled with the results. Best of all, Instant Pot beans require no presoaking, and the beans are cooked in less than thirty minutes. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on how old your beans might be. I have found that using the saute function at the end for a few minutes will help help ensure your beans are perfectly cooked and creamy.
Instant Pot beans are so easy, in fact, that I am amazed I hadn’t tried it sooner. I have many packages of small white beans harvested from around Spello in Umbria that we have brought back from Italy that I decided to start using up. I have been cooking these small beans in my Instant Pot in recent weeks, but any dried white bean such as cannellini beans works out great. The larger beans will take an extra couple of minutes to cook under pressure, however. In order to get the creaminess Tuscan beans are known for, after I cook them under pressure, I just open the pot and cook on the saute function until most of the liquid has been absorbed. I do use a fair amount of olive oil in my bean recipe as well which helps to create the creamy texture. I cook my beans with a couple of bay leaves and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Once cooked to perfection, I season well with salt and pepper, drizzle on some more extra virgin olive oil and enjoy. Considering how inexpensive dried beans are, this is a great side dish to serve for a large group, and these beans are a perfect side dish to serve with roasted or grilled meat.
Deborah Mele 2020
- 1 Pound Dried Beans
- 7 Cups Water
- 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Sea Salt
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Put the beans, water, rosemary, bay leaves and olive oil in a 6 Quart Instant Pot and seal.
- Set on Manual for 20 minutes for small beans, and 25 minutes for cannellini size beans.
- Cook, then slow release for 10 minutes.
- Open up the pot and stir.
- Taste the beans to ensure they are fully cooked. They should be tender but still hold their shape.
- If the beans are not completely cooked, or are not creamy and there is still too much liquid, turn on the saute function. Continue to cook until the beans are fully cooked, and creamy smooth, stirring often.
- Season the beans well with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the beans into a serving bowl and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 276mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 3g