Marcella Cucina, she talks about the delicious beans that Assunta, her husband Victor's one-time Tuscan housekeeper, used to make him. Perhaps it was the story, but I craved the opportunity to taste them for myself. So you can imagine that the first time I actually located fresh cranberry beans, it was ecstasy. I was not disappointed. Cooked at a bare simmer, with sage and garlic, in minimal water and a big splash of olive oil, they become fragrant, creamy, and flavorful. I must warn you, they'll lose that beautiful cranberry color, but they taste so good, you'll probably find yourself whispering "grazie" to Assunta -- and Marcella -- too.
from Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan
1 lb unshelled fresh cranberry beans (about 2 cups shelled)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup water
4 to 6 fresh sage leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Fresh ground black pepper
A good extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the beans when serving
1. Shell and rinse the beans.
2. Put the beans and all other ingredients in a small lidded pot. The beans should be just covered with water. Moisten a clean kitchen towel, squeezing out the excess water, and fold it to fit the pot lid. (Use one you won’t mind staining.) Cover the top of the pot with the towel and set the lid
3. Set the pot over a very low flame and cook slowly at the barest simmer. After 45 minutes, check the liquid and add a few tablespoons of water as needed. Repeat twice more in 20 minute intervals. You may have to adjust the quantity of water to match the level of heat. (The beans should never be soaking in water, but should have just enough to keep from sticking.) The beans should be done in about an hour and forty five minutes. Taste them. They should be firm but tender and the skin should have remained whole without cracking.
4. Drizzle with fresh olive oil when serving.
These are best served the moment they are done, but they can be made through the end a day in advance. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container and reheat gently with a tablespoon or so of water.