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Host Story: Richard and Rana Florida throw an intimate dinner party for their interesting friends

Mario Batali’s white bean bruschetta

Mario Batali’s white bean bruschetta

1 ¼ cups dried cannellini or other white beans
1 carrot, halved
1 red onion, halved
1 celery rib, halved
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
1 sprig each fresh Italian parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
Sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

1. Soak dried beans for 12 to 24 hours in cold water. Transfer the beans and liquid to a medium pot, add enough water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a simmer, skimming off the foam. Add the vegetables, garlic, bay leaf and herb sprigs, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

2. Drain the beans, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Remove the vegetables and spread them on a platter or baking sheet to cool slightly. Transfer the beans and garlic to a medium bowl (discard the bay leaf and other herbs).

3. Coarsely chop the vegetables and add to the beans. Add ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid, then add the oil, stirring gently. Sprinkle with the chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper. 4. Spoon onto 1-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread, drizzled with high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and grilled.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking.