A Tuscan Beans In Tomato Sauce Recipe Is A Taste Of Italy

This Tuscan Beans in tomato sauce recipe is a traditional side dish of legumes, tomatoes, rosemary and sage that we enjoyed in Florence and it is ideal anytime.

tuscan beans - side dish

Delicious Side

Tuscan Beans And The History Of Fagioli all’Uccelletto

White Beans in tomato sauce (Fagioli all’Uccelletto), which means: beans cooked in the “little bird” style, are typical of the Italian region of Tuscany, which has a particular affinity for this legume. Pellegrino Artusi writes in his classic: “Science In The Kitchen And The Art Of Eating Well”: 

In the trattorias of Florence I have heard the shelled beans called fagioli all’uccelletto cooked like this: Cook them first in water and remove them to dry. Put a pan on the fire with the oil in proportion and several sage leaves. When the oil becomes strong, throw the beans down and season with salt and pepper. Fry them until they draw the grease and shake the jar from time to time to mix them; then pour a little simple tomato sauce over them and when it has incorporated, remove them. Dried beans with fine skins can also be useful after being boiled. These beans lend themselves very well as a side dish to boiled meat, if you don’t want to eat them alone

If Artusi is writing about this recipe and cooking technique, you know that it is important and most likely very tasty. This recipe is a little more involved, but it doesn’t stray far from its origins, and it certainly pairs well with a meat dish.

Mesh Strainers

This set of strainers are the right tool for the job and easily cleaned later.

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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Tuscan Beans Is A Vegetarian Recipe?

The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it great, and because it is vegetarian, it is a great option if you are having guests for dinner but you don’t know of any dietary restrictions. It is also a healthy option for people that are looking to avoid fried foods, which are very common appetizers (antipasti) here in Italy.

What Kind Of Beans Are Used?

Mixing Bowls

Only recently have a realized how great mixing bowls with lids are and these stainless steel beauties are amazing!

The most appropriate beans used in Tuscan for this dish are Cannellini beans. Cannellini are a white kidney bean that is popular in central and southern Italy. They are larger than navy beans and closely related to the red kidney bean and are commonly used in Italian soup recipes.

Tuscan Beans - Simplicity

Beans and Tomatoes

These beans were originally cultivated in Argentina but eventually became popular in a number of Italian dishes, including Minestrone, Pasta e Fagioli and Bean salads. Cannellini beans are excellent in soups and even puréed into bean spreads or dips. They maintain their shape better than other white beans and are a favorite for bean salads.

Tuscan Beans With Garlic, Sage and Rosemary

Santoku Knife

The Santoku style knife is my favorite when I’m cooking and Victorinox makes a great one!

The Cannellini beans have a great texture, but the main components that create these amazing flavors are the fresh garlic, sage and rosemary. If you haven’t used fresh herbs before, I strongly recommend it, and this is another great recipe with which to try them. Years ago, when I was taking a cooking class, I was first exposed to using fresh herbs, as opposed to the dried, bottled McCormicks herbs that I grew up with, and it was an awakening. The amazing combination of flavors and textures will definitely make you want to cook this Tuscan Beans in Tomato Sauce recipe again and again!

Tuscan Beans - Peeled Tomatoes

Peeled Tomatoes

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What Tomatoes Go With This Beans Recipe?

The recipe calls for peeled tomatoes, which you then crush with a fork. This worked for me this time, but I usually avoid anything bigger than crushed tomatoes because I am not a fan of the chunks. If you are of the same mind, crushed or pureed canned tomatoes will work well, but you might avoid using fresh tomatoes, at least the first time making this dish so that you can enjoy the traditional preparation.

Tuscan Beans - Crushed

Crushed With Fork

Soaking The Tuscan White Beans Overnight

I’ve been enjoying dried beans for a while now and this recipe takes advantage of the control and economics of using them. The control is what you have when determining how firm or soft you prefer your beans. When you buy them in the can, they are typically too soft for my tastes, albeit a lot easier to use. The economics are amazing because of how inexpensive, yet full of nutritional value they are. Just remember the night before to put them in a bowl well covered in water to soak overnight.

Tuscan Beans In Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Preparation: 15 min

  • Cooking Time: 50 min for the beans + 20 min for the sauce

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Servings: 4 people

Tuscan Beans - Garlic

Simple Seasonings


  • 12 ounces (300 g) of Dried Cannellini beans
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste
  • 14 ounces (400 g) of Peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 5 or 6 Sage leaves, depending on the size
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Start the night before by soaking the Cannellini beans in cold water, covering them completely, in a large bowl. They will need to soak for at least 10 to 12 hours to soften, so leave them until the next morning.
  2. Once softened, drain the beans and transfer them into a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 50-60 minutes. They should be soft to the touch of a fork but not mushy. While the beans are cooking, skim off the white foam that will form on the surface during cooking.
  3. Once cooked, drain the beans but save the cooking water. It is starchy and you will need it later.
  4. In a saucepan or dutch oven, pour in some extra virgin olive oil, as much as you like, and add the 2 cloves of garlic, the sage leaves and a sprig of rosemary.
  5. After a minute or two, add the peeled tomatoes that you will have crushed with a fork. Add salt and cook for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the Cannellini beans, mix with a wooden spoon and if the sauce is drying out, pour a ladle of the cooking water, close with a lid and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Ensure the sauce doesn’t get too dry by ladling more cooking water to the pan.
  7. The tomato sauce that was cooking with the beans shouldn’t be too watery, so if you want to dry the sauce a little, remove the lid from the pan for the final couple of minutes and reduce the sauce slowly.
  8. When it is done, remove the garlic and herbs as well as you can.

Serving Suggestions

Once ready, sprinkle lightly with pepper, serve it piping hot and accompany it with a few slices of toasted bread (preferably NOT Tuscan) and a good red wine! This is a traditional side dish, so it can be paired with almost any other protein-based main dish, like beef, chicken or a vegetarian option.

Previous Italian Recipes That Might Interest You

These easy and delicious recipes are great during the colder months, so here are some other Italian recipes, like this Tuscan Bean, that you might want to try:

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