Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Tuscan Beans

I just got back from ten days in Italy. Trust me, there's lots to say about the trip, particularly our inability to get anywhere without taking the scenic route, but the best part of it was how much we learned. Not only can I now tell a Renaissance door from a Gothic door (seriously - and I'm sorta proud of it), but I learned tons and tons about Italian wine, among other things. In fact, I may not ever again drink anything but Italian wine now. I'm convinced now that I absolutely must learn to make gelato, because of course we tried it at every place we possibly could.

As part of our stay, we also had a cooking class and a dinner cooked for us. They were simply amazing. I have so many new dishes to try out now, and I can't wait to begin doing so. Then again, that may be why I replicated two of them while we were still in Italy. This afternoon, I made one of them again in the hopes that the wee ones would love them as much as I did. Little Miss enjoys the Tuscan beans, but unfortunately Mister Man didn't like the texture so much. I'll still be making them regularly.

Tuscan Beans

2 cans cannelloni beans (white northern beans) - or you can do 3/4 c dried beans, as described below*
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small bunch of sage leaves
1/4 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pan on the stove on medium heat. Once it's hot (don't use a nonstick pan), add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let it come to temperature - you want enough so the onions don't stick but don't want to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Exact measurements aren't critical. Add the onion and sage, and saute until it has just softened and turned translucent but before it starts to brown.

Add the cannelloni beans. Our instructor added the liquid in the cans, too, but I find that makes this too salty for me. I'd use maybe half the liquid or maybe a little less, then add some extra water. Add the remaining olive oil, along with the pepper. If you are using the canned beans, hold off on the salt for now. If not, add a bit of salt, as well. Mince your garlic, and add this, as well. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook down.

You want to keep cooking until it's become thicker, forty-five minutes or so. This can hold on the stove for a long time, just add a little water if it gets too dry. Before you serve, fish out the sage leaves. Taste it one last time to check to see if you need to add any more salt or pepper. Drizzle a bit of extra olive oil over the beans just before serving. Enjoy!

Yum! Find this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at The Well this week.

*I've made these both ways. The woman teaching the class made them with canned beans. I tried them first with canned beans and this time with dried beans. I'll be honest. The canned beans taste better and have a - shockingly - better mouth feel. If you want to use dried beans, you will want 3/4 cup of dried beans. Put them in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the beans sit for an hour and a half, then pull out 2 c water in a measuring cup and save it for later. Drain the beans from the rest of the water, then follow the instructions in the recipe. You'll add the water you set aside to the beans at the step where I add the beans in the can and their "juice."

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Hyacynth July 12, 2011 at 9:42 PM  

Looks so good, Michelle! Glad you enjoyed your trip. Looking forward to seeing you while we cook during the next few weeks.

Joanna Jenkins July 12, 2011 at 10:57 PM  

I'm officially jealous :-) My dream is to go to Italy for cooking classes. That is my idea of paradise.

This recipe looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing it. I'll be giving it a try soon.

Welcome home! jj

Heather E July 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

THIS is PERFECT for me! Good protein and all things I can eat! I am so stoked to try them! Welcome back, I have missed you!

Tara R. July 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM  

My stomach is already growling. This sounds wonderful.

tiarastantrums July 15, 2011 at 9:12 AM  

LOVE Italy so much and yes - you can' stop by any gelato shop w/o a sample!

Pat July 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM  

What fun- a trip to Italy! I've wanted to go there again for a long time--rent a villa in Tuscany. This dish sounds delectable. Did you go on a tour or do your own thing?

Michelle July 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

Hy - It is so good. I just finished off the last of it last night. Ha! That's what happens when I tuck it away in the back of the fridge; I actually get to eat it ;)

Joanna - We just had one cooking class, but it was incredible. I want to go back and spend a week or two cooking there. I'm with you on that being paradise!

Heather - Yay! Glad I finally made something you can eat. I hope you enjoy them. Missed you, too.

Tara - It's a great side dish, and I love how you can make it and just let it sit so you don't have to fuss while making another course.

Teresa - I think I fully qualify as a gelato expert now. Thank goodness for all those hills and all that walking, right? ;)

Pat - This was an incredible experience, and I highly recommend the place we stayed, too. We did this with two couple friends and the owners of the villa arranged some outings just for us, so we weren't mixed in with the hoi palloi ;)

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