Don't let the title of this recipe fool you. There's nothing fussy or difficult about cooking beans from scratch. It's what you add to the pot that elevates them from humble peasant food to culinary excellence. The cooking liquid is quite flavorful too, so feel free to stir it into soups and sauces in which you plan to use the beans too.
1 cup dry navy beans, picked over and rinsed
4 cups cold water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Generous pinch of sea salt and finely ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce flame to lowest setting. Cover pot and let the beans cook at a gentle simmer until tender, about an hour.
Remove the pot from heat and let the beans cool. Transfer to a container with the cooking liquid, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze for up to two months.
I wondered the same thing for a long time. Since my mom doesn't like beans, my exposure to them was non-existent as a kid. I'm pretty sure I didn't have my first taste of them until my teen years. I tend to be a literal person and assumed all along that navy beans were, well, darker hued, like black beans. They're actually tiny white beans, and lucky for me I can get them at the farmers' market from Cayuga Organics.
if you plan to add the beans to a soup or other recipe in which they will cook longer, then reduce the simmering time to 25 to 30 minutes, for a more al dente bean. This way they won't get mushy when you cook them again the second time.