White Beans With Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender

These fragrant Provençal herb-scented beans make a fine meal on their own, with some shavings of Parmigiano, aged goat cheese or ricotta salata, and Shallot (or Garlic) Toasts. They are also a classic accompaniment to grilled or roasted lamb.

Serves four to six


  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, thyme and savory (if you have it), minced
  • Pinch of dried lavender
  • 4 cups cooked, drained white beans, such as cannellini, navy, baby white limas or flageolets
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (optional)


Combine extra-virgin olive oil and shallots in a large (12-inch) heavy skillet.

Cook, covered, over moderate heat, until the shallots are soft and golden, about five minutes.

Stir in fresh thyme and rosemary (and savory, if you have it) and a pinch of dried lavender. Sauté, stirring, for one minute.

Add beans and water to the pan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has almost evaporated, about five minutes.

Adjust the seasoning, including a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice if necessary to brighten the flavors; pepper generously.

Spoon the beans into four shallow soup bowls. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over each serving.

Recipe excerpted from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider (William Morrow, 2006).

Why No Numbers?

Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

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