First, soak dried white beans in water over night. I put mine on the counter in a small bowl full of water, and when I woke up yesterday morning the water was all gone. Either my cat drank it or the water had been totally absorbed. Oops. I re-filled the bowl to leave it until I was ready to start cooking after work.
The beans are placed in a sauce pan with water and aromatics. The author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins lists a lot of different examples of aromatics that could be used -- I chose a quartered onion, garlic, black peppercorns, and a couple of small dried hot red chilis.
The water is brought to a boil and then the heat is lowered, the beans are covered, and the whole dish simmers until the beans are cooked. They need to be tested periodically to make sure they don't get too done, and to ensure that there is enough water in the pot. Mine took about an hour.
Once cooked, the beans are drained (reserving their water) and the aromatics can be discarded.
The cookbook gives a few options at this point for what can be done with the beans. My route to bean readiness was: 1) Mash up a small amount of the beans and mix them with the reserved water, mix this in with the whole beans, 2) stir in olive oil, 3) stir in lemon juice, cumin, and hot red pepper flakes.
This can be eaten hot or cold, so I decided to give it a try both ways during lunch today. Cold beans did not thrill me. Hot beans were a step up. Then I realized I hadn't added salt -- that's the key to hot and tasty beans. Yum!
Total Cost of Tuscan Beans with Olive Oil and Aromatics: Free!