When you're craving a Roman holiday, opt for this simple pantry meal that also works great for meal prep.
a photo of Giada De Laurentiis
Credit: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Beans are a classic staple of any kitchen, but especially those looking for budget bites and plant-based protein options. We have plenty of favorite bean-centric recipes, from hearty chili to bright, fresh salads, and we feel strongly that, yes, you should eat more beans. Giada De Laurentiis is also climbing aboard the beany bandwagon with a new post all about the merits of beans, plus an easy recipe to go with it.

In a blog post, the folks over at Giada's blog, Giadzy, shared that beans are a key player when it comes to the Italian philosophy of cucina povera, meaning "poor kitchen." Cucina povera is all about avoiding food waste and making something delicious with only a few simple ingredients—which is a perfect way to describe Giada's Borlotti Beans with Garlic and Rosemary.

To copy Giada's dish, you'll need to soak 2 cups of dry borlotti (AKA cranberry) beans overnight, or up to 24 hours in the fridge. Remove the beans that float to the surface, drain the beans and you're ready to go. With the bean prep done, gather a dried sprig of rosemary, a dried bay leaf, a few garlic cloves, olive oil and salt. Simply combine all the ingredients except for the salt in a large pot with 5 cups of water, bring it to a simmer and let it cook for about an hour. When the beans are tender, salt the pot to taste and serve.

The resulting dish will be savory, rich and herbaceous, packed with slow-cooked flavor. And like most recipes with few ingredients, it's very customizable. Giada herself suggests swapping in cannellini beans if they're more accessible (we think other dried beans like kidney beans, white beans or chickpeas could work well too), or trading the herbs out for others, if you'd rather have beans with basil or thyme. You can keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to five days—just store them with a bit of their cooking liquid—or cook the whole bag at once and store the leftovers in the freezer.

While eating canned beans is still a healthy way to get in some plant-based protein, the folks at Giadzy note that the tinny taste some canned beans have make them less than ideal for simpler recipes that use fewer seasonings, like a quick tuna and white bean salad. "Perhaps the best reason to cook your own beans is the flavor," the staff shared. "Season the bean cooking liquid the way the Italians do with some garlic, celery, and hardy herbs like sage or bay leaf, then salt to taste once they're tender, and you'll have a major head start toward deliciousness." Making a big batch of these beans and freezing them could be a huge win for folks who need to limit their sodium intake, or even folks who just don't enjoy the taste of canned beans.

Some of Giada's fans were quick to agree that beans are delicious when done Italian-style. "Best dish I've had in ages was bowl of beans in Firenze," one commenter shared. Others noted that minestrone and pasta e fagiole are some of their favorite cozy meals. Another was relieved to see Giada's recipe come across their feed. "My husband and I had this dish in Rome and have been looking for the recipe for a year," the commenter wrote. "Thank you for posting Giada!"

Serve up this bowl of beans with a chunk of delicious whole-wheat bread and a salad, like an easy Cucumber & Avocado Salad or our Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, to make your meal veggie-packed and complete. Just remember to make enough for the week—one big Sunday batch of these beans could be the easy basis for five days of meal-prep.