White Beans braised with Sage: Fagioli alla Salvia

White Beans braised with Sage: Fagioli alla Salvia 

Our daughter, Maria, and her family will be living in southern Tuscany, in Cortona, for several months this fall while she teaches ceramics at the University of Georgia Study Abroad program in Italy.

Preparing a dinner for her family a few weeks ago, I asked for ideas on the menu. Maria wanted a bean dish, something she greatly likes, and requested specifically it be seasoned with sage. Sage is particularly popular in Tuscan dishes. 

Here’s my effort at a Northern Italian-style white bean dish with sage, perhaps slightly fancifully Tuscan. It was well received. 

The beans are cannellini, white kidney beans, which are especially popular in Italy and the Mediterranean. They are increasingly available in the US, including at local supermarkets, some of whom, like Kroger, even carry their own brand of them. 

The recipe serves six as a side dish or a topping for pasta. 

2 (14-ounce) cans cannellini beans (or Great Northern beans) 
1 small onion 
1/4 of a red bell pepper 
10 fresh sage leaves 
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne 
3/4 cup chicken broth 
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese  for topping

Drain the beans and rinse them briefly. Set aside. Mince the onion and the bell pepper. Separately, finely mince the sage leaves. 

Beans withpasta -- Pasta e Fagioli
In a heavy pan, gently fry the minced onion and bell pepper in the olive oil, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the drained beans, seasonings and the chicken broth. Stirring frequently, simmer the mixture together 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

Taste and add a little salt if needed. 

Serve hot as a side to dinner. Alternatively, serve over, or tossed with freshly cooked pasta. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

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