My amazing uncle Tony prepared one of my favorite dishes for lunch - beans with onions and extra virgin olive oil. A simple ‘casareccia fagioli’ (homemade beans) dish. He used cranberry beans and when in Italy, we make this healthy and delicious dish using ‘borlotti’ beans picked fresh from the garden. Sometimes fresh borlotti beans are available at specialty markets in the US. A food rich in flavor, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins and proteins. They are ideal as a side dish or first course meal.
You can get really creative with this dish like adding fresh tuna to the mix known as “tonno, fagioli, e cipolle’ (tuna, beans and onions) or use the beans to make ‘pasta e fagioli’ a rustic, full bodied, homemade classic Italian dish that makes you feel at home even if you are away from the family. They are also fantastic in a variety of soups such as farro and bean soup, one of our very favorites! Whatever way you decided to make them, you can’t go wrong!
For fresh beans, begin by shelling the beans. Add beans to a large pot and cover with fresh water. Do not add salt until the end. Add sage leaves and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring. After one hour, taste whether the beans are cooked - they should be tender but firm to the bite. If they are still tough, cook them a bit longer. If cooked, add salt to taste. Drain beans and reserve cooking liquid, also know as aquafaba, which can be used for baking as a substitute for eggs or use the liquid for soups.
If using dry beans, soak overnight in enough water to cover and refrigerate. Follow same steps as fresh beans above but cooking time will be longer, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender but still keep their shape. Stir in salt when beans are finished cooking.
Enjoy everyone and happy weekend!