Shell Beans with Breadcrumbs


  • 1 pound dried beans (anything but black beans or kidney beans)
  • fennel scraps
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • onion peel
  • bouquet garnis of parsley stems, thyme, and a bay leaf, tied with string
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • good olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs picked and medium-roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped and smashed to a paste
  • salt


  1. Soak the beans overnight in water to cover them by 5 inches in a big pot or bowl.
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the breadcrumbs with a good amount of olive oil, spread them in single layers on baking sheets, and bake until lightly toasted and golden. They should be crisp.
  3. Drain the beans and add them to a new pot along with the aromatics: fennel, carrot, onion skin, bouquet of herbs, garlic, and water to cover them by two inches. Season the water very well, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, skimming the bubbly scum that rises to the top of the pot as you do.
  4. Add a lot of olive oil to the pot (at least 1/4 cup) and cook beans at below a simmer until completely tender and velvety. Taste the bean water as the beans cook, making sure that it tastes like delicious soup, and adding water, about an inch over the beans at a time, if the beans begin to peek out of the top.
  5. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the toasted breadcrumbs with the parsley and garlic, and salt to taste.
  6. Drain the beans from their liquid, saving the liquid. Remove the aromatics and herbs and spread the beans into a casserole, making sure it only has a depth of 3 inches. Drizzle very lightly with bean liquid to keep the beans from being completely dry.
  7. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the beans have just begun to bubble up.