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Today’s recipe for Tuscan-Style Beans is a deliciously different alternative to the more traditional (but still very delicious) Boston baked beans that we so often see served at summer barbecues!
The original name for these Tuscan-Style Beans is Fagioli All’Uccelletto – which in Italian means “beans in the manner of little birds”. This article attributes the name to the fact that the beans in this recipe are flavored with sage – a common herb used when cooking poultry in Italy, and it certainly is an interesting Italian-to-English translation!
But whatever the origin of the name, this is a simple and incredibly flavorful dish that you’ll find prepared in just about every kitchen and restaurant in Tuscany! Dry beans are soaked overnight, then cooked the following day to a creamy texture. Once tender, the beans are combined in a fantastic, flavorful sauce made with sage, tomatoes and Italian sausage.
Our Tuscan-Style Beans recipe – which is based on one that we brought home after our honeymoon in Italy – is made with dry Roma beans (found at most supermarkets). But other versions of this recipe call for cranberry beans or cannellini beans. Regardless of the type of bean you use – it’s important to use dry beans that are soaked overnight (not canned beans) to ensure the perfect creamy texture in the finished dish.
P.S. We think these Tuscan-Style Beans taste even better the next day – so feel free to prepare this recipe in advance and simply reheat before eating. Enjoy!
- 1 pound dry cranberry or Roma beans (Roma beans were available in our local market)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 whole cloves pressed into onion
- 2 large sage leaves
- 3 medium whole garlic cloves smashed (1 ounce)
- 3 quarts water
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound Italian sweet sausage links, cut into one-inch slices
- 4 medium to large garlic cloves sliced thick (1½ ounces)
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
- 2 tablespoons vermouth or any white wine
- ½ cup cooking liquid from beans
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place dry beans in a large bowl and cover with a gallon of water and soak overnight at room temperature.
- The next day drain and rinse.
- In a large pot, place soaked beans, the quartered onion with the two cloves attached, the two sage leaves, the smashed garlic and the three quarts of water.
- Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until the beans soft and tender.
- Reserve ½ cup of cooking liquid and discard remainder along with the sage leaves, garlic and the quartered onion. Leave beans off heat until needed.
- In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté sausage, garlic and sage until sausage slices have browned, about five minutes. Add vermouth and cook to evaporate.
- Add cooked beans and the ½ cup of bean liquid. Stir to combine.
- Crush tomatoes by hand into the bean mixture then pour in the tomato liquid and add the tomato paste, salt and pepper.
- Stir and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes until creamy.
- Note: We found that these beans picked up more flavor the following day when reheated.
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