Preparation time: 25 minutes
Expense: 10 euros
The Fagioli Uccelletto Recipe (or “small bird beans”, although no birds will be harmed during the making of this recipe!) are a typical dish of the humble Tuscan kitchen. Almost a complete meal in itself, this recipe became a side dish when meat became a staple on Tuscan tables, but originally beans (and any other legume) were the main source of proteins for the rural population. It should not surprise to find it often in restaurant menus, because although it really is a very simple recipe, it is a delicious one that never leaves anyone dissatisfied. In order to get best results it is advised to use white cannellini beans (also known as fazolia and white kidney), as they are the most tender, sweeter, and with thinner skin. Their paste is not as grainy as other beans, and their taste is perfectly accompanied by the other ingredients of this recipe.
– Cannellini beans (canned ones are fine) 1 can per 2 people
– 3 heaping tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
– a clove of garlic
– plain tomato sauce
– 2 or 3 leaves of sage
– salt and pepper.
– For winter version: one Tuscan sausage per person
Put in a large, high-sided frying pan the oil and the whole clove of garlic and let sauté over low heat for several minutes, add the sage leaves and let it cook a while taking care that the garlic does not darken too much. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce per person. Always keep heat low and let the tomato sauce cook a couple of minutes so that it flavors up with the oil. Remove the garlic clove and add the beans with their broth of conservation. Add a pinch of salt, cover the pan and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes at the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally, and being careful not to dry out the beans too much (until you gt a thick creamy sauce that almost covers them up). Before serving, if you like, add a pinch of black pepper.
The winter variant has delicious fresh Tuscan sausages in it. This is a somewhat more expensive variant, but really tasty and hearty.
If you have a fireplace already going, you will have to broil the sausages slightly on embers before cooking them. Alternatively you can lightly broil them.
Immediately after adding the beans in the pan add a sausage per person. Take care to turn the sausages frequently to cook them well on all sides and also occasionally puncture the skin with a toothpick or the fork so that the fat content can flow out freely and sausages do not swell excessively. Sausages need ten more minutes of cooking time if you do not first broil or roast them. A full bodied wine is an excellent accompaniment for this dish. Buon appetito!
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