Tuscans are a proud people, their cuisine generally straightforward and satisfying often an outgrowth of Cucina Povera. The moniker Magiafagiole, or bean eaters is a playful reference to their affinity for bean dishes. Tuscan Style Beans is a rustic preparation which is served as a staple or basis for a variety of other dishes.
Tuscan Style Beans generally use dried Cannellini or Great Northern beans, however is not necessarily limited to these. I prefer to use a terra-cotta cooking vessel to prepare beans, cooking them very slowly. When using a terra-cotta on the stove top it’s best to use a flame tamer to disperse the heat in a gentle way. Tuscan Style Beans can be prepared using a enameled cast iron pot either over the flame or in the oven.
Truthfully my preferred method of cooking is in a wood fired oven. The smoke permeates the terra-cotta and the resulting beans are mellow and creamy with a hint of smoke. The tradition at Casa Levitt, after an afternoon of pizza entertaining, is to put a pot of soaked beans into the forno as the temperature begins to lower. After several hours, allora the bean pot is pulled from the ashen floor and we have a supply to last for the coming week.
There is actually very little involved in preparing Tuscan Style Beans. The dried beans require rinsing, soaking overnight and the addition of some typical Tuscan elements such as sage, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. The beans are seasoned with salt and olive oil at serving time. The buttery fagioli are divine on a winter’s evening, but as I mentioned earlier they serve as the basis for any number of dishes. A bruschetta using the beans along with some sautéed greens, Pasta Fagioli, Escarole & Beans, Beans & Sausage, Tuna & Bean Salad and as a side for the acclaimed Beefsteak Florentine.
Tuscan Style Beans are La Levitt’s absolute favorite and perhaps the dish she longs for most when returning home from university….
If you enjoyed my post about Tuscan Style Beans please subscribe below…and I welcome any comments in the section that follows the recipe.
- 1 pound dried Cannellini or Great Northern Beans
- fresh water
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large sage sprig
- 3 unpeeled cloves of garlic
- Terra Cotta Bean Pot & Flame Tamer or Enamel Cast Iron Pot
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sage sprigs for garnish
- The day before you plan to cook the beans, place them in a strainer and rinse well with cool water. Check the beans for particles and remove any extraneous material. Put the rinsed beens into either the Bean Pot or Enamel Cast Iron Pot and cover with 2 inches of fresh water. The beans should be soaked overnight.
- The next day pour out the soaked beans in a strainer and rinse well with fresh running water; the beans will have doubled in size. Place the beans back into the cooking vessel, if using a terra cotta pot place the flame tamer on the heating element first. Cover the beans with 2 inches of fresh cool water; add the sage sprig, garlic cloves and olive oil to the pot and slowly bring the pot to a gentle boil. Simmer the beans gently until tender - if using the terra cotta bean pot this can take between 2 to 3 hours, if using an enamel cast iron pot the time should between 45 to 60 minutes. Once the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and set aside.
- At the time of serving, reheat the beans gently and season with salt. Place into serving bowl and season with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garnish with sage.
Janice Faulstich says
Thank you for the reminder of this easy classic, Paula. A type of beans that I think is even better than cannellini is borlotti or cranberry beans. They are usually found dried, but in summer one can sometimes find fresh borlotti at farmer’s markets or better super markets. These, of course, cook much more quickly. I’ll follow your suggestion and cook up a batch of beans this week!
PS I envy you your wood-burning oven!
I am so happy to have provided you with a reminder. And I love the suggestion of using borlotti or cranberry beans, I’ll try one of them the next time. This weekend, I’ll search for the fresh variety at my local farmer’s market.
The oven is a luxury of course, the best part of having it is sharing it with family or friends – when you come my way you are welcome to help me prepare a meal in it.
I only wish we had a pizza oven so I could cook the beans this way. My husband is threatening to build one-I’ll be thrilled if he does.
That’s a threat that I would look forward to him acting upon. Your food is so wonderful no matter how it is prepared.
Ciao Chow Linda says
Oh how utterly wonderful to have a pizza oven and then use the embers to cook these beans. The only thing better is to have a fiaschetto on a grill outdoors with a Tuscan backdrop. Those things notwithstanding, I will definitely try your technique and I especially love the addition of the sage. A wonderful way to cook dried beans.
The forno is certainly a special addition to our home which I so appreciate. Ah, a fisachetto – truly Tuscan…
Stacy Tompkins says
I think this cuisine is very good for our health. Thanks for reminding for me a simple recipe that is very easy to cook
So happy to bring you this simple yet healthy recipe!