We’re Cooking: White Beans with Roasted Garlic, Rosemary and Olive Oil

When I was in South Africa last year I had a dish of white beans cooked with rosemary and very fresh olive oil.  I am not sure if it was an authentic South African dish, but it was simply one of the best things I have ever had and I have been trying to replicate it since I got back.  The key, as I have found after trying and trying, is to just accept that this is a dish that is going to be soaked in really good olive oil, so I had to give up on trying to make it low-fat and embrace the “all things in moderation” motto and acknowledge that at least I was using a good fat. The use of rosemary olive oil really brings out the rosemary flavor, and don’t be shy with the salt either, you want the beans to have lots of flavor.


White Beans with Rosemary, Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil
1 16 oz package of white navy beans
1 large white onion, chopped
5 whole cloves garlic
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stems fresh rosemary, about 6 inches long each – chop one of the stems finely
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to your taste)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups good veggie stock
1/2 cup rosemary olive oil (we love the one from St. Helena Olive Oil Company in Napa)
1/4-1/2 cup regular extra virgin, very fresh olive oil + 2 tablespoons, divided
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (again, we use one from St. Helena Olive Oil Company)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Pour the beans into a pot and cover with water.  Cover the pot and soak the beans overnight in the fridge.  Drain off the next morning.  Cover again with 1 1/2 cups of stock and plain water and add the onion, carrots, 2 stems of rosemary, red pepper flakes, 2 bay leaves and season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat the beans over medium heat until the boil.  Boil the beans for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a medium simmer so they continue to cook.  (You want to cook the beans until they are almost falling apart.)  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350.  Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil with the 2 tablespoons of oil.  Roast the garlic until it is soft and mushy.  Smash the garlic to a paste and set aside.  After about 30 minutes check the consistency of the beans to see if they are starting to break down.  If they are drain them.  Fish out the bay leaves and the rosemary stems and discard.  Separate the carrots and onion with about 1 cup of the beans and puree them together, adding a bit of the remaining stock if needed.  Add back to the rest of the beans and stir in the roasted garlic, rosemary, parsley, paprika, rosemary olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set back over low heat to keep the beans warm until ready to serve.  If the consistency is too dense add more olive oil, a few tablespoons at a time, and the remaining stock, again a few tablespoons at a time (you don’t want them to get soupy.)  When ready to serve give the beans a final drizzle of oil.