Fagioli all’Uccelletto

This simple traditional tuscan recipe might remind some of the british baked beans, but with a more italian flavor. An excellent side dish to accompany meats, especially the traditional Tuscan cuts such as bistecca alla fiorentina or tuscan sausages, it is simple and quick to make and can also stand as a main course on its own.

One particular thing regarding the recipe is the fact that the name refers to the italian word for bird “Uccello”, which strikes as very odd for a dish that is fully vegetarian. Well the famed Pellegrino Artusi helps us out here. According to Artusi, the name derives from the fact that the aromas used for the dish, especially sage, are the same that were used to prepare small birds on the spit.


  • 150g of dried  cannellini beans
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic, 6  minced garlic cloves and 1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
  • 2 sprigs of sage, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 300ml Tomato purée
  • salt and pepper to taste


Start by soaking the dried cannellini  in  salted cold water overnight. Once at least 12 hours have passed drain the soaked beans and place in a pan with the halved garlic bulb, sage and onion. Top up with water and season with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 35–45 minutes or until the beans become tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Discard the onion, garlic and sage. Preheat an oven to 160°C. Heat 40ml of the oil in a casserole pan and gently fry the garlic and sage until soft.  Once the garlic is soft, add the beans, then add the tomato purée,  enough to cover the beans, add the cooking water if needed. Season with salt and pepper then place the lid on the casserole pan. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes to thicken up the sauce, if needed.