White cannellini beans with Italian sausage in a plum tomato sauce.
Note, this recipe calls for preparing dried beans. You can substitute steps 1 and 2 in the recipe by using four 15-ounce cans of beans, rinsed and drained.
- 1 lb dried cannellini beans
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 fresh sage leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 black peppercorns
Beans with sausage
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3-4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup tomato purée
- Salt (about 2 teaspoons) and freshly ground black pepper
1 Rinse the beans under cold running water. Remove any stones you may find. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with at least a couple of inches with cold water. Soak for at least 4 hours. (To do a quick soak, you can pour boiling water over the beans and cover by a couple of inches, and just soak for one hour instead of four.)
2 Drain the beans. Add 3 quarts of water back to the beans in the pot. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, the sage leaves, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and the peppercorns. Cover, bring to a simmer on medium heat, and simmer beans for one hour. Season to taste with salt. Lower the heat so that the beans are barely simmering. Cook for an additional 1-2 hours, or until beans are just tender. Note that the fresher the beans the shorter the cooking time, the older the beans the longer the cooking time. Remove from heat and let cool in cooking liquid. Set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the rest from the beans.
3 Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Remove sausages from their casings (if the sausage has come in casings), and fry on the skillet until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Do not stir that much and do not crowd the pan, or the sausage won't brown well. Add the reserved bean cooking liquid, 4 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
4 Add the reserved beans and tomato purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer a few minutes longer, stirring gently, until sausage is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Be careful not to break up the beans.