Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fagioli alla Salvia ed Aglio (Tuscan White Beans with Sage and Garlic)

This was one of the side dishes that we prepared during a February 2009 cooking class at Cavallo Point led by Judy Witts Francini. Judy has a description of this dish, and the use of beans in general in Tuscan cuisine, on her Divina Cucina website. Here is an extract:

"Florentines are known in Italy as bean eaters. Beans are an important part of their diet, forming a perfect protein with spelt or farro, an ancient wheat
grain used by the Egyptians and Romans. Beans form the base of quite a few well-known dishes--Tonno e fagioli (tuna and bean salad), Minestrone (vegetable soup), Fagoli all'uccelleto (beans in tomato and sage sauce), Zuppa di gran farro (bean and spelt soup), Fettunta bianca (toasted garlic
bread with beans, new oil and pepper) and Zuppa Lombarda (beans and their broth served with garlic toast)."
The dish we made at the class was was really tasty and I had been wanting to try it for some time. Finally tonight I gave it a try based on the recipe copied furthest below that Judy gave us at our class.

For the beans I used some dried “Italian Butter Beans” that I had purchased from the folks from Iacopi Farms (Half Moon Bay-based farmers) at the Sunday San Rafael Farmers Market (one pound for $5). I soaked the full one pound of beans overnight, which resulted in 6 ½ cups of soaked beans.

I then followed Judy’s below Cavallo Point recipe almost to the letter, using six cups of water and a full head of garlic, plus two additional crushed cloves. I ended up cooking the beans in the oven just under 2 ½ hours, adding some water along the way. You just have to taste them along the way to see if they are ready.

I served drained, drizzled with some olive oil and with a bit of fresh black pepper. If you like garlic (as I do!), as Judy indicates below the softened cloves from the head of garlic are great squeezed out and spread on toast – in effect the Zuppa Lombarda dish Judy mentions in the above extract.

The dish really turned out well and was a great accompaniment to some roast chicken Nancy prepared. The quantity would easily have been sufficient for 8 servings, and probably closer to 10 (some left for tomorrow - I'm going to try some bruschetta with cavolo nero and the beans). Although we ended up discarding the broth, as Judy indicates below it would be great as a starting point for a soup.


The following recipe (click to enlarge) was provided by Judy Witts Francini at her cooking class at Cavallo Point – 21 February 2009


Simona said...

Sage and garlic: very nice. I like beans a lot and make them often. The list in the excerpt reminded me that I have not made minestrone in a while. And fettunta! But I will be away from my kitchen for a few days, so my plans have to wait for the New Year. Buon Anno! Are you planning a trip to Italy for 2010?

Divina said...

how nice to see this mention!!!
Glad you still use the recipes.
The beans freeze well too-
and I now have a new recipe-

Puree 1 cup of cooked beans with 1 drained can of tuna, loosen with some light olive oil.
Spread on toast.

gastronomichael said...

Hi Judy and Simona. Thanks for your comments. Judy, coincidentally I am planning to try a tuna + leftover bean dish for lunch using your Tonno e Fagioli recipe: http://www.divinacucina.com/tonno.html. Simona, I hope that a visit to Italy will be in the stars for the Year of the Tiger - most probably somewhere in the north this time. Buon Anno a tutti.