Beans, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, and sage. This simple combination of ingredients represents one of the most iconic dishes of Cucina Povera. Pellegrino Artusi wrote in his La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene in 1891 how easy it was to come across this meal around kitchens and restaurants in Firenze. Explaining the recipe, Artusi doesn’t specify which variety of beans is preferable; Borlotti, Cannellini, and other local varieties are all used around Tuscany, but the most frequent choice in Firenze undoubtedly falls on the Cannellini. We think these delicate and creamy beans work marvelously with the earthy, balsamic notes of sage and the sweetness of cherry tomato sauce. Fagioli all’Uccelletto can be served as a side dish with meat, but they also stand alone as an aromatic, rustic, and satisfying soup.
SERVES: 4-6 people
TIME: About 1 hour and a half (+ beans soaking time)
- Soak the beans in salted water overnight.
- Drain Cannellini and place them in a pot. Fill with enough water to cover by at least 3 inches. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
- Cook uncovered, skimming the surface of the foam as needed.
- Beans will be cooked when they have an evenly tender texture, but still a bite (approximately 1 hour).
- Drain the beans, saving their cooking water.
- Put EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, 6 sage leaves, and sautee until the leaves are crispy and the garlic turns golden (about 4 minutes).
- Add tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of bean cooking liquid, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, add drained Cannellini and cook, stirring once in a while, for about 15minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Serve and finish by drizzling a little EVOO and garnishing with some sage leaves.