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Learn to Cook: White Beans

From navy, cannellini and lima beans to great Northerns and flageolets, adding white beans to your menu plan adds good nutrition, versatility and ease.

Cooking beans at home is renowned as a simple way to save money and provide the base for many a healthy meal. It requires little effort and they're easy to keep on hand in the fridge or freezer. Then you can quickly put together everything from basic beans and rice (seasoned differently in different cultures) to soups, salads, dips and spreads.

This basic recipe for White Beans makes about 7 cups, approximately 10 servings.

1 pound dried white beans (cannellini, navy or great northern)

1 yellow onion, quartered

2 dried bay leaves

Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Spread beans in a single layer on a large sheet tray; pick through to remove and discard any small stones or debris and then rinse well.

Soak the beans using one of these two methods: Traditional soaking method: In a large bowl, cover beans by 3 inches with cold water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

Quick soaking method: In a large pot, cover beans by 3 inches with cold water, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain soaked beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover by 2 inches with cold water, add onion and bay leaves and bring to a boil; skim off and discard any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Drain beans (if desired), discard onions and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Hungry for More?

Once you know how to cook white beans, you can give these dishes a try. If the recipe calls for canned beans, simply replace with your cooked beans.

Do you have a favorite dish that uses white beans? Let us hear about it!