Fagioli all’Uccelletto

White Bean Ragout

This ragout is the ideal accompaniment for leg of lamb, lamb chops, and broiled chicken; it could even be a meal in itself if you add sausage and pancetta. If you thin the mixture with some broth, you will have a wonderful bean soup. Add some cooked pasta shells and you have pasta e fagioli.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried white beans
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups diced fresh or canned tomatoes with 1 cup juices
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Soak the beans overnight in cold water and drain. Cover the beans with fresh cold water in a medium saucepan. Simmer covered until tender but not mushy, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. (Do not cook them al dente, but it is better to err on the side of too firm than too soft as they will cook a little longer in the ragout.)

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook covered until translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the beans and the reserved cooking liquid and the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer covered until the beans are tender and the flavors blend, 10 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the mixture is dry, add chicken stock, water, or more tomato juice.

Variation

For White Bean Ragout with Sausage and Pancetta, cook ½ pound prepared or homemade fennel sausage (without casings) or ¼ pound diced pancetta in a large sauté pan until the sausage is no longer pink. Add the cooked meat with the beans and tomatoes to the onion.