Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Fagioli all’Uccelletto con Sage Polenta (Italian White Beans with Sage Polenta)
The Giro takes us into the region of Tuscany for the next couple of days. We transition from the Piedmont region, where dishes feature heavy peasant food, to an area where simple dishes are king. Sauces and garnishes are used in a way that do not mask the natural flavor of the food. The refined cooking in this region features olive oil and the use of herbs, especially sage, rosemary and basil.
The Tuscans are very fond of cooking beans. That is why I chose this particular dish. The naming of this recipe is truly inspired as its name comes from the seasoning – garlic and sage – which are typically used in chicken dishes. That’s where “uccelletto” comes from. It means “birdy”. So, these are white beans made “birdy style”. (But, no cooking actual birdies on Veggin’, right?)
The directions and recipe are a compilation of several recipes I found from various sources. My goal was to make this a quick and easy “after work” type meal that you can make after a long day. I used canned white beans and diced tomatoes. If you have a little more time, by all means soak dry beans over night and/or use fresh tomatoes. Either way, I highly recommend using fresh sage over the dried stuff. It’s worth that extra freshness (especially if you’re using canned ingredients.)
Fagioli all’Uccelletto con Sage Polenta
(Beans recipe: by Megabeth)
(Sage Polenta recip: by Adopt a Turkey)
Ingredients for the polenta
5 cups water or light vegetable stock
1 ½ cups polenta
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh sage, or ½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (If you’re not familiar with nutritional yeast read this.)
1 tsp sea salt
Ingredients for the beans
2 15oz cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
To make the polenta:
In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta and whisk constantly for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients.
Continue cooking, whisking every 5 minutes, until the polenta starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
For the beans…
In a saucepan or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and fresh sage. Cook until garlic is soft and not too brown. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and turn down the heat.
Simmer tomatoes for 15 minutes.
Add the white beans to the skillet, add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Serve beans over the sage polenta.