1 pound dried beans, such as Jacob's cattle, pinto or flageolet—picked
over, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water
2 quarts vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup amber maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped sage
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Drain and rinse the beans. In a large saucepan, cover the beans with the stock; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately high heat until the bean skins begin to split, 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the onions and garlic, cover and cook over low heat until the onions soften, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are browned, 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, maple syrup, vinegar, parsley, sage, bay leaf and 3/4 teaspoon of salt; bring to a boil. Add the beans and their cooking liquid and bring to a boil..
Cover and bake for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and the sauce is thick. Remove the bay leaf, season the beans with salt and pepper and serve.
The dried beans need to be soaked overnight, so plan accordingly.