The beans can be made a day ahead; just warm them up before serving. This recipe might give more beans than you need, but they will keep for several days and also freeze well. Stir them into soup, or serve as a side dish next to a big grilled steak. In a pinch, canned cannellini can be used. Drain them and sauté them with the oil and parsley for a few minutes, until warm.
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 16 thin slices pancetta
- 16 slices country bread, about 3 inches long each, grilled or toasted
Drain the soaked cannellini, and put in a pot with water to cover by 2 inches. Add the carrot, celery, bay leaves, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
Uncover the beans, and simmer to reduce the cooking liquid down so it just covers the beans, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with the salt, and let cool until just warm.
Drain the beans, and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the parsley.
Meanwhile, lay the pancetta in a nonstick skillet (you may have to do this in batches), and cook over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
To serve, mound some of the warm beans on the bread slices on a platter. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Break the pancetta into shards, and set them on top of the beans.