Fagioli all’uccelletto, or “beans cooked like little birds” is a simple, homey dish, originally from Tuscany, Italy. Traditionally it is made from a handful of everyday ingredients and served as a meal on its own, with crispy white bread for dipping. The beans receive a liberal dousing of good quality extra-virgin olive oil right before they are eaten. No other embellishments needed.
Fagioli all’Uccelletto (Cannellini With Sage, Tomato and Sausage)Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
90minutes + overnight soaking
The cozy mix of beans and sausage.
- For the beans
1 pound dried cannellini beans
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 sprig fresh sage (or other fresh herb, like rosemary)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
- For serving
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 sweet Italian sausages
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 fresh sage leaves
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the beans: Add cannellini to a sieve and rinse and drain well, discarding any pebbles or broken bits. Transfer the beans to a bowl, cover with about 3 inches of cold water and soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the beans and place in a large pot (allow enough space for them to double in size). Cover with cold water by about 2 inches and add garlic and sage.
- Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Pour in a generous splash of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently, covered, until the beans are tender, 40 – 50 minutes. Stir in salt and continue cooking gently for 10 minutes. If not using right away, cool the beans in their liquid, then refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Finish the dish: Preheat the oven to 375F / 190C. Heat a large, ovenproof pan over medium-high heat and coat generously with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Slice sausages open lengthwise and crumble filling directly into the pan; discard the casings. Add garlic and sage and cook until sausage is browned, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, stir, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until sauce is thick and glossy, 10 – 15 minutes.
- Stir in 4 cups of prepared beans. Season with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the pan to the oven and continue cooking until the edges are crusty and browned, 25 -30 minutes. Drizzle the surface with olive oil just before serving. Eat piping hot with bread for dipping.
- The dish can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.