The Tuscans have been famous as bean eaters for centuries and many recipes for cooking these delicious pulses have originated from the region. The dishes do require fresh beans for the best results, but I think the dried variety works rather well too. This dish is excellent both as an antipasto and an accompaniment.
If using dried beans, drain them and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Put them in a saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, boil fast for 5 minutes, drain, rinse and return to the pan. Cover again with fresh cold water, return to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour or until tender - the cooking time will vary according to the type of bean.
Heat the oil in another pa