See our Beans Recipe Collection for some ideas of what to cook with many different types of beans.

We at The Splendid Table get asked a lot: "How do I cook dried beans such as navy beans or pinto beans?"

Here's the deal with all dried beans:

1. Rinse

Rinse the beans and discard any small pebbles or shriveled beans.

2. Soak

Put the beans in a bowl and cover with 2 inches cold water and soak overnight. Alternatively, you can cover the beans with 2 inches of boiling water and let stand 1 to 2 hours.

3. Cook

After soaking, drain away the water. Put the beans into a deep saucepan. Add fresh cold water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. You could also add flavorings such as garlic, bay leaves, cloves, onion, carrots, celery and a bit of chile pepper, but take care with salt and don't add anything acidic because acid will stop the beans from cooking.

To cook, bubble the beans very slowly, partially covered, 45 to 90 minutes. The beans are done when they taste tender but are not falling apart. You could add salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The cooking time varies according to the type of bean and how fresh it is.

4. Enjoy

Once cooked, you can hold the beans in the refrigerator about 3 days, no more. Some people save the liquid along with the beans and use it for soups or to moisten the dishes the beans will be added to.

Personally, I love bean salads with a little garlic, a little olive oil, vinegar and perhaps some red onion added to the cooked beans. This is a Tuscan classic. Let your imagination go!