Chef's note: The flavor from cooked dried beans is delicious, but you can also use canned white beans here if you want to make this recipe and you don't have time to cook the beans from scratch. Substitute 1 (15-ounce) can of white cannelloni beans, drained, with a bit of the bean liquid reserved.
For the beans:
- 3/4 cup cannelloni beans
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the bruschetta and topping:
- 1 small baguette, sliced into thick pieces
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic, plus 1 garlic clove, peeled, for coating bread
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 8 to 10 basil leaves
- 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Lemon juice
- Salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated large
For the beans:
Rinse the beans well and then put in a 1-quart saucepan. Cover with water to 1-inch over the top of the beans. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Immediately take the pot away from the burner, cover and hold for 1 hour. Change the water; add half of the extra-virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove and the bay leaf. Cook beans on low. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender. During last 10 minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in carefully. Remove from heat and hold in the saucepan with the cooking liquid until cool. This may be done 1 to 2 days before serving, and kept refrigerated.
For the bruschetta topping:
Preheat a grill or stove-top grill pan.
Grill the bread on both sides until crispy. Be careful on high heat as bread burns easily.
While bread is grilling, in a saute pan on medium heat, toast the sliced garlic in the olive oil. When it is light golden, add the chili flakes, cook for 10 seconds and then add the basil leaves. Do this carefully, as the basil may spatter some oil.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the pan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bean cooking liquid (or liquid from canned beans) and mix all together. Hold warm. Adjust consistency, as necessary, with the bean liquid, a little at a time.
When the basil leaves are wilted, remove mixture from the heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chopped parsley. Toss to combine and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, to taste, and salt and pepper.
Lightly swipe the remaining garlic clove on 1 side of the bread. Arrange the toasted bruschetta on a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil. Top each piece with some of the tomato-bean mixture, then evenly divide the ricotta salata over the mixture. Serve warm.