Otherwise known in English as White Beans with Sage, Garlic and Fennel. Super-fab! This one-pot vegetarian meal is so satisfying and tasty, that if you are a meat-eater—and we are—you won’t miss the meat. The simple combination of white beans, sage and garlic exemplifies the clarity of flavor the Tuscany region’s cooks can pull from just a few ingredients.
It is advised not to use cannellini beans, but rather Navy or Great Northern. We used the latter which are smaller than cannellini beans but larger than navy beans. Known for their delicate, nutty flavor, they’re usually added to casseroles and soups, such as this recipe. In summary, white beans provide a good source of protein, an excellent source of fiber, and several essential nutrients.
This recipe gave us a perfect opportunity to harvest the remainder of our fresh sage from the garden before the cold weather set in. Used in two ways—finely chopped and fried whole—this herb has a pronounced herbal flavor that is earthy, has a slightly peppery taste, and emits hints of mint, eucalyptus, and lemon. What’s more, sage is faintly piney, though not like juniper. It’s much softer and mixed with subtle citrus notes; perhaps a little on the bitter side, though not harshly so.
We loved it topped with an ample garnish of grated parmesan, but if omitted, it could work for the vegans in the family.
Don’t drain both cans of beans. The liquid from one of the cans creates a sauce-like consistency that keeps the beans succulent.
Tuscany's Fagioli All'uccelletto
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage, plus 20 whole leaves
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 14½-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 15½-oz. cans white beans, 1 can rinsed and drained
- Shaved or grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, chopped sage, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and the beans. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the sage leaves and cook, flipping the leaves once, until the edges begin to curl, about 1 minute. Transfer to the prepared plate; reserve the oil.
- Transfer the beans to a serving bowl, then drizzle with the sage oil. Coarsely crumble the sage leaves over the beans. Top with Parmesan.
Recipe from Catherine Smart for Milk Street