I got the idea of using lemon zest from Nigel Slater, I think. The zest enlivens the bland, mealy quality of the beans, as do the garlic and the pepper.
For more about cooking dried beans, see here.
Serves 2, as a generous side portion.
150g cannellini beans
3 garlic cloves, 1 of them peeled and chopped
2tbsp olive oil
1dstsp tomato puree or tomato ketchup
1/3tsp lemon zest
Soak the beans in filtered water. They may take about eight hours to hydrate (see the entry to which I’ve linked above).
Drain them, cover with fresh filtered water, throw in the whole and unpeeled garlic cloves, bring to the boil, and simmer. Cooking times vary wildly, in my experience: from 1 to 3 hours, in part depending on how thoroughly the beans have been soaked.
Drain the beans, but retain the water in a jug. Extract the garlic, and remove the flesh from the skins.
Warm the oil in a small saucepan, and add both the cooked and uncooked garlic, stirring the cooked flesh to encourage it to melt. After a minute or so, tip the beans into the pan.
Pour the bean water into another jug until you have just the sludgy stuff at the bottom. Pour enough of this into the beans to create a moist but not runny texture. Add the tomato (ketchup is fine, and may even be nicer), lemon zest, salt to taste, and plenty of pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.