Creamy white beans simmered in tomato sauce with shallots, garlic, and sage. Fagioli all’uccelletto (Tuscan Braised Beans) is great as a side dish, but easily works as a main dish over rice or pasta.
From the stormy mountains of West Virginia—complete with a coal train rumbling on the other side of the river—I bring you a Tuscan recipe with Appalachia written all over it.
What is Fagioli all’uccelletto?
Fagioli all’uccelletto means “beans in the style of birds” in Italian. Why? Great question. The best guess I’ve found is that the beans are made with ingredients similar to game hens—cooked in sage, garlic and olive oil. Good enough for me!*
The ingredients’ simplicity makes it easy to make on the fly. The only thing I don’t always have on hand is fresh sage, but I’m not above using dried sage in a pinch. Just add it after the beans instead of in the oil if that’s your move.
Not only is it easy to keep the ingredients on hand, but they’re also affordable and can last a while. It’s weirdly satisfying when you think you’re going to have to get takeout again and realize you can make something tasty, healthy and fast with things you already have.
I think most of us can appreciate that after the mess that has been 2020. I don’t know about you, but I won’t forget what it felt like to step into a grocery store in mid-March anytime soon.
I’ve definitely never been a prepper or anything like that, but I need systems. I’m scatterbrained. Stocking up on shelf-stable ingredients in bulk so I don’t have to worry about it later is a must. It’s nice to not have think about whether we’re out of canned tomatoes every week, or get halfway through a meal only to realize we’re out of something like rice.
Is Fagioli all’uccelletto like Tuscan baked beans?
I see recipes call this “Tuscan Baked Beans” a lot, and it’s a little misleading to me. Not even just because you don’t bake it. When you think of baked beans, you probably imagine a distinct flavor, and this isn’t it.
Baked beans are sweet and smoky and involve heavy ingredients like brown sugar and bacon. Fagioli all’uccelletto is savory, and though it does feel silky and rich, it’s much lighter than baked beans. People do often cook it with sausages, and I wouldn’t say no to a little prosciutto or pancetta, but it would still be a totally different feel.
How to eat Fagioli all’uccelletto
Fagioli all’uccelletto is often served as a side dish, but it’s great as a main course as well. Beans have plenty of protein, and you’ll have even more if you serve it over rice. If you’re making this as a main dish, just keep in mind the serving sizes in the recipe card are for side portions.
You can serve it with crusty bread for dipping, rice or even over pasta. I love to poach eggs in it like you would with shakshuka, whether it’s right after I’ve made it or I’m reheating some leftovers on the stove.
White beans are high in iron, which is one reason I eat them so much. I personally get a little anemic pretty often, as many women do. It’s nice to outsmart the fun lethargy that makes deciding on, getting the ingredients for and cooking dinner a triathlon.
This isn’t the most authentic version out there. I don’t use passata (strained sauce with just tomatoes), I adulterate it with shallots and I usually use canned beans (though you can totally use dried if you have time). Still, I think this recipe captures some of the spirit of Tuscan cooking with a pinch of modernity. Use what’s available, make it extra tasty and the modern one, use your time wisely.
*I’ll probably google this intermittently hoping for new, definitive evidence when it pops into my head at 2 a.m. for the rest of my life, but I’ll take that as a good enough answer for now so I can just post this already.Print
Creamy white beans simmered in tomato sauce with shallots, garlic, and sage. Great as a side dish, but easily works as a main dish over rice or pasta.
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup finely minced shallots or sweet onion
- 2 Tablespoons fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried sage)
- 28-oz canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 28-oz canned tomatoes in juice
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Warm a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the garlic cloves, and onions. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the sage.
- Add the cannellini beans and sauté until they begin to look dry (when they lose their shine), 4-5 minutes.
- Hand-crush the tomatoes into the pan and stir them in. Add 1 cup of the juice from the can and set the rest aside. Add the salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid, stir and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Add more tomato juice a few spoonfuls at a time if it dries out too much.
- Serve warm with crusty bread. Enjoy!
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Braising
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: fagioli all’uccelletto, Tuscan braised beans, Tuscan baked beans, Italian baked beans, white beans, tomato sauce, sage