Nonno Fin’s Beans

When I was just a toddler, I destroyed one of my parents’ cookbooks, Ada Boni’s Il Talismano della Felicità, so that it was barely held together by it’s binding. It’s cover, which is permanently etched in my memory, was of a rugged-looking man hungrily eating a bowl of beans. Somehow there is something very manly about a dish of beans. My father loves beans, I love beans, and so did my maternal grandfather, Nonno Fin, whose recipe this is. I wonder if it was that “bean gene” that made me attack that book.

Time from start to finish: 30 minutes


  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 5 to 6 sprigs flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 3 cups canned cannellini beans, drained
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop enough parsley leaves to measure about 2 tablespoons. Put the garlic, parsley, and olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. When all the garlic is sizzling, add the canned tomatoes and break them into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the beans and season with salt and generous grindings of the pepper mill. Once the contents of the pan are bubbling, lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot or warm.