Tuscan beans with garlic, olive oil and sage
One thing we enjoyed over and over in Italy, especially in Tuscany and Rome, was a dish of slow cooked white beans cooked in a glass flask over low heat for many hours. It was such a treat. We ordered it wherever it was offered and always ended up wiping the plate clean with a piece of bread (expected to be done as the food is so good).
Most of the time these were white cannellini beans but other white beans can work as well. Try it as a side dish or as a topping for grilled bread along with a crisp green salad. If you have leftovers, add stock and make it into a soup, chunky or pureed.
I soak the beans overnight before cooking but if you wish you can cover the beans with water, bring to a boil and let sit, covered for about an hour, then drain and proceed with the recipe.
The beans we had in Italy were cooked with olive oil, garlic and sage so this is what I am doing here. Use water or stock for the liquid and don’t add the salt until the beans are cooked. Adding them too soon may toughen the skin and prevent them from cooking properly.
I have a lot of sage in my garden so I sniped a generous branch of sage with a few leaves attached and left it intact so it was easier to remove at the end of the cooking. A couple of fresh bay leaves also from my rooftop garden enhanced the flavour of the dish, How fun to pick your own herbs outside of your kitchen door.
Enjoy the dish.
2 cups cannellini beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1-2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 bay leaves
1 branch sage leaves
Rinse the beans, then place in a bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight on the counter.
Next day drain the beans and rinse again.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot, add the shallot and cook until translucent but don’t let them brown.
Add the garlic and cook for a moment until it is fragrant but do not let it turn golden.
Add the beans and mix with a wooden spoon.
Add stock or water to cover by about 3 inches and bring to a boil.
Add the bay leaves and branch of sage and mix them in.
Lower the heart to simmer, cover the pot partially and cook until the beans are soft and fully cooked but not falling apart. Depending on the beans, this can take from 45 minutes to an hour and a half or so.
Keep checking the pot and if more liquid is required add some but do not flood the beans. You want to liquid to be almost gone when the beans are cooked.
When the beans are almost fully cooked add the salt and pepper.
When they are fully cooked remove the bay leaves and sage branch, turn the heat off and let the beans sit in the pot, partially covered, until needed.
The beans will keep well in the fridge a few days.
Serve warm, with an additional drizzle of finishing olive oil (olive oil of high quality that you wouldn’t want to heat up in a skillet).