Meatless Monday: Tuscan White Beans

Gluten-Free, Italian, Main Courses, Meatless, Vegan / Monday, December 13th, 2010

In Tuscany, cannellini beans are served as a side dish. Just something to take the place of potatoes or rice.

But a pot of beans this good – beans that have been simmered with fennel, carrots, garlic, sage and rosemary – deserves more respect. I mean, these aren’t beans served straight from a can. These are main-course beans. They’re like George Clooney, circa 1985. You can let them play second fiddle to Tootie on “The Facts of Life,” or you can give them a starring role and watch them shine.

When I cook these Tuscan White Beans, I add a little extra stock to the pot, so the beans get really creamy and soupy. Then I serve them with a few thin slices of toasted Italian bread to sop up the liquid. Pair your bread and beans with something green, and you’ve got a simple, well-balanced supper. Clooney not included.

Tuscan White Beans

Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?”

Serves 6

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans (or about 4 15.8-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped fennel (stalks, fronds, and core removed), about 2 large
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 to 2 cups vegetable stock or no-chicken chicken stock (just chicken stock, if you’re not going meatless)*
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. The night before, soak the beans in a large bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans, rinse well, and place them in a large stockpot. Add twice as much water as you have beans, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, until the beans are very tender. Skim off any foam that accumulates.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the fennel and carrots, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  5. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Drain the beans, and add them to the vegetables.
  7. Add 1 cup of the stock, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, until creamy. (If the beans are still hard after 15 minutes, add another 1/2 to 1 cup of stock, and continue to cook until the beans reach your desired consistency. Longer tends to be better.)
  8. Stir in the Pecorino, season to taste, and serve hot.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF stock.

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10 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Tuscan White Beans

  1. WHOA – I just googled "no chicken chicken stock" and read the ingredients! Does it taste like chicken in any way, shape or form – or does it taste like veggie stock? My husband has a severe poultry allergy (seriously) and cannot eat anything with evidence of poultry in it (including broths). So – I ALWAYS end up using veggie stock for everything…Is this newfangled no-chicken chicken stock worth ordering??? My world would totally open up, if so…(holding back excitement til I get your opinion on taste)

  2. these sound amazing…and i'm always down with serving something in lieu of the traditional starch with dinner! yum :)

  3. Yum, these sound and look wonderful!

    @Laura: I've seen Better than Bouillon chicken-flavored vegetable stock at Whole Foods. As far as I know there is no chicken in it, and it works great in dishes like these where the broth is not the main component (although I've never tried it plain). It really does have a chicken broth flavor to it.

  4. Yowzers! Looks delish, and there's nothing I appreciate more than a bean recipe that doesn't involve pork flavoring! Whohoo!

  5. I just love Ina's recipes, they are so simple but always full of flavor. This soup sounds like just the thing on a cold day with a big hunk of bread. I know I'll be making this one soon!

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