When cannellini beans are cooked in the oven instead of on the stove, they acquire a much more pleasing consistency – I don’t know why it isn’t a more common method for this type of bean. In this recipe, the cannellini are cooked until they begin to break down, and are then enhanced by just a touch of tomato, creating a lucsious, stew-like dish. After cooling for a few hours, the beans become thick and downright creamy.
These are perfect with vegetarian or chicken sausages, or as part of a meal composed completely of “contorni” – Italian vegetable side dishes. This weekend I served them with a spring vegetable tart and Ligurian potatoes and mushrooms. Of course, those recipes will magically appear on your screen in the coming days, so stay tuned.
Tuscan Baked Beans with Sage and Tomato
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife, roughly chopped
14 fresh sage leaves
1 pound cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained
3 cups water
1 14-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and well chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 3 minutes. Add the beans, stir to coat, and cover with 3 c. cold water. Heat to boiling.
Cover and bake in the oven until the beans are tender. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on the age of your beans, so test them for doneness after 45 minutes and cook longer as needed. You can add a little more water along the way if the beans get very dry. Add tomatoes and salt, return beans to the oven and bake another 20 minutes.