Tuscany is a land of poets, artists and scientists, but also of excellent wine and ancient flavors that we can find in poor dishes such as pappa al pomodoro, ribollita or these white beans called all’uccelletto (small bird). According to Pellegrino Artusi, the name derives from the aromas (in particular sage) that are used to flavor the little birds that were part of the ancient Tuscan culinar tradition. This dish will make you rediscover the true value of the traditional pesant cuisine: the art of preparing what is available, transforming simple ingredients into a delicious dish.
It is a rich and substantial vegetarian side dish that was served in ancient times to accompany meat or game. You can also enjoy it as a main course with a few slices of Tuscan bread to pick up the delicious tomato sauce flavored with garlic and sage. It is also a healthy dish to introduce into your weekly diet.
Beans have a marvellous nutritional profile: whilst about 1/3 of their energy comes from protein, the remainder is primarily a high-quality resistant starch, a carbohydrate which passes the length of the gastrointestinal tract and acts as dietary fibre. This type of starch is filling, protects against weight loss, reduces cholesterol, and increases fatty acid metabolism.
CANNELLINI ALL’UCCELLETTO (WHITE KIDNEY BEANS , TUSCAN STYLE)
300 g (11 oz) dried cannellini beans, about 50 g (2 oz) per person
3 bay leaves
4 -5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons dense tomato sauce
4-5 fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Sort through beans, discarding any small stones; then rinse the beans under cold running water. Put the beans in a large bowl cover with cold water, and set aside to soak overnight
2. The next day, drain the beans; place in a casserole, then cover with plenty of cold water. Add the bay leaves. Cover the casserole with a lid, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, cook until bean skins are tender and interiors are soft, about 1 ½ hours. Towards the end, add some salt to taste
3. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow beans to cool in the cooking liquid. Then rinse under cold running water and drain
4. In a non-stick pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic. Cook until light brown and remove. Add the beans, tomato sauce and sage. Cook over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm. -Paola