There is no exact recipe for cooking dried beans and chickpeas, a lot of it depends on freshness, quality and size of the bean. The general rule of thumb is to soak the beans overnight and to cook them the following day in water with fresh herbs and garlic, but no salt (salt will cause the skins of the beans to go tough and chewy). Check the harvest date when buying dried beans and chickpeas, they should not be older than nine months.
For 4-6 people
250g dried beans, soaked overnight
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
A bunch of fresh sage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
Put the beans into a bowl large enough to hold enough water to cover them, as they will swell and increase in size. Leave to soak overnight. Next day when your ready to cook the beans, drain and rinse them.
Place the beans in a large, thick bottomed pan and add enough water to cover them by 3cm. Add the garlic cloves and sage and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that floats to the surface. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook uncovered until the beans are tender.
The cooking time will vary depending on the freshness of the beans; it can take from 45 minutes to 1½ hours.
When the beans are ready, they should be tender and the skins soft. Drain them, season with salt and pepper and stir in a few spoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
In Italy they keep the cooking liquid to use for bean soups.