September 24, 2010

Tito's Oven Roasted Beans

It is that time of year- fresh beans are appearing in my markets and what I really love is when I find them already shelled. Florentines are called Mangia-fagioli, bean-eaters. Not sure if it is supposed to be offensive, but I adore beans and eaten with rice or grains become a perfect protein and one of the secrets of the Mediterranean diet.

 shelling beans can be relaxing- but if not, buy them already shelled

If you can't get fresh beans, try to by freshly dried beans from a reputable shop. Dried beans can be years old and hence take forever to cook. I am friends with Steve of Rancho Gordo in California and totally support the work he is doing with beans. Check out his site, he ships! He has also written a great book on beans. 

I was very lucky to work in Fiesole when I first came to Tuscany. I was hired as a waitress, as kitchens were run by the families that owned the place I worked. Tito, the father and head chef had owned one of Florence's oldest trattoria's which was down on the river. When Florence flooded in 1966, it was wiped out and the family re-opened in another spot, and eventually took over La Romagnola in Fiesole where I met them.  Cooking large quantities of beans stove-top can be hard, I adore this oven-baked version which also creates a cassoulet style crust on top of the beans. Stir them for even cooking.

Tito's oven-roasted beans
Roasting in the oven frees you from watching the pot cook and allows you to relax!
I use a large lasagna pan, but a nice clay pot would be fabulous or a dutch oven.
I prefer to cook these beans before I really need them, as I think they are much better the next day

The recipe is an idea, can be doubled no problem. Beans will double in volume when cooked. If needed, more water can be added. I like to have the rich garlicy broth for soups.

2 cups cannellini beans, rinsed ( if dried, rinse and drain and then soak overnight)
4-6 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sage branch
1 head of garlic, left whole, but with the top cut off
salt, to taste

(Florentines don't like to eat a lot of garlic, save the roasted garlic and serve the cloves spread on toast for those that love garlic!)

Place all the ingredients in the pan except the salt and cook at 350 degrees until beans are tender. 
(Depending on the beans can be up to 2 hours)

Stir the beans once or twice during the cooking time, approx 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
( watch a movie on TV!) The olive oil will create a "crust" on the top layer of beans, this adds some texture, much like cassoulet, but can also dry that top layer, which is why you want to stir.

Salt the beans at the end of the cooking time.

I like to make  a lot of beans, and then portion them and save in zip lock bags in freezer. Great to add to soups or for last minute meals.


  1. Very interesting blog, full of ideas, beautiful photos and passion for Italy!!
    Great! Maybe we'll meet in Venice the 18/19 'll be a pleasure!!

    Have a nice day, Fabiana

  2. Fabiana- so sorry I can't make it to Venice on the 18/19 for the meeting- I am working!

  3. I love this idea and will definitely try cooking beans this way.

  4. I'm printing this recipe out today. In our house we love garlic! I love cannellini beans too and use them in soups all the time. I'm not crazy about sage though - but I will give it a try with this.

  5. hawkwoman3:21 AM

    I'm assuming from the cooking time that this recipe uses canned or pre-cooked cannellini beans. I make a similar recipe in my crock pot but am eager to try the oven method.
    I also add several small branches of rosemary to mine in addition to the sage. I'd suggest trying the rosemary if you don't care for sage. It is yummy. I serve mine heaped over slices of rustic bread.

  6. in tuscany I get beans which are "freshly" dried. not from years ago- so if they cook quickly. Often if you don't know how old your beans are, soak overnight or bring to a boil, then follow the recipe.

  7. Anonymous9:41 PM

    Cover the pan/pot in oven or not?

  8. no--- just stir once in awhile as the top beans get crispy