Fagioli all'uccelletto (beans with tomatoes) is a delicious Tuscan beans recipe made with Italian cannellini beans, garlic, tomatoes, sage and olive oil. These Tuscan beans make a perfect stand-alone meal or a great side to baked Italian sausage , seared Italian tuna or served with garlic ciabatta bread.
Fagioli all'uccelletto is a traditional Tuscan beans recipe that doesn't really translate directly to what this dish is. Fagioli means beans in Italian and all'uccelletto means "with the herbs used to cook birds" (uccelletto means bird in Italian).
This recipe does use sage and garlic which are two common flavors added to poultry for cooking but these Tuscan white beans with tomatoes are just that, beans with tomatoes and no meat added.
It is no surprise that this dish comes from the Tuscany region of Italy since the Tuscans are known as the bean eaters of Italy.
They grow beans all year in this region and many of the bean varieties that they use can only be found there. Thankfully, for this recipe, it uses Italian cannellini beans (white kidney beans) that are easy to find in stores.
Many Tuscans will make this dish with Italian sausage added to the beans during cooking. I prefer serving baked Italian sausage on the side.
Italian sausage and beans really makes the best combination!
- Cannellini beans (white kidney beans). You can use pre-cooked cannellini beans (canned) or dried. I prefer making Italian baked cannellini beans from dried beans and have included how to do this in the recipe below. If you have tried my farro minestrone, it is similar to making those beans.
- Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes work best.
- Fresh sage. Dried won't taste as good so try to find fresh.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
The ingredients are very simple. This is the way the Italians like to cook.
The key is making sure to find the best ingredients. This is how Italians do it and why a simple recipe with very few ingredients can taste so good.
How to make fagioli all'uccelletto
When I have the time, making this dish from scratch where you cook the white beans at a low temperature in the oven first is my favorite way to make these beans. For one, the broth the beans make when cooking is so good and it's added to this dish at the end.
The other reason is the beans will have a firmer texture since they haven't been sitting in a can for a long time. If you don't have time, using canned cannellini beans will work too.
Ways to serve these Tuscan beans with tomatoes
My favorite thing to serve with these Italian beans is lemon garlic shrimp and Italian baked sausage. I also really love making these beans a main dish and serving it with sliced ciabatta garlic bread.
Variations for fagioli all'uccelletto
Fagioli all'uccelletto has many variations based on who is making the recipe. It is not too dissimilar from all the variations Italians have for making an Italian meat sauce.
This fagioli all'uccelletto is the version I had when I was in Italy and I love it. It is full of delicious broth and not too thick. I also love the way there are fresh tomatoes poking through the beans.
Some versions will be made with a thick tomato base. You can make it however you prefer!
- If you do not have dried cannellini beans, you can substitute canned beans.
- If you do not have cherry tomatoes, you can use fresh diced tomatoes.
- You can also omit the fresh tomatoes completely and use about 2 tablespoon of tomato paste mixed into the bean broth.
- Instead of fresh tomatoes, you can add about ½ cup of passata (tomato sauce) to the bean broth.
Fagioli all'uccelletto (Italian beans with tomatoes)
If cooking dried beans
- 1.5 lbs dried cannellini beans
- 8 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic
- water to cover the beans in pot
- 6 cups cooked cannellini beans
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes any small tomatoes will work
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- a couple swirls of freshly cracked pepper
If cooking dried beans
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Chop the tip off of the head of garlic (make sure to chop the pointy tip side and not the root side)1.5 lbs dried cannellini beans, 2 bay leaves, 1 head of garlic, 8 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- Add beans, head of garlic that you just chopped and bay leaves to a large heavy bottom pot. Make sure the pot has a tight fitting lid.
- Now add enough water to cover the beans by about ½ inch over the top of the beans.water
- Add olive oil and cover with a lid.
- Place in oven a cook for about 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
- In a large saute pan over medium low heat add the olive oil, sage and garlic.⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, 5 cloves of garlic, 4 fresh sage leaves
- Cook gently for about 3-5 minutes to soften the garlic and allow the sage to perfume the olive oil.
- Now add the tomatoes, pepper and salt to the pan and cover with a lid.1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, a couple swirls of freshly cracked pepper
- Cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to soften.
- Add the beans to the pan .6 cups cooked cannellini beans
- Add about 1 ½ cups of the bean broth if you made fresh beans or if using canned beans, 1 ½ cups of water.
- Warm beans though.
- Serve warm or hot.