Dried beans are a magical thing to keep in your pantry. They’re endlessly versatile, and with a few aromatics and the tiniest amount of (hands-off) effort, they can be transformed into a delicious, healthy side dish. These braised cannellini beans with prosciutto and herbs (fagioli con le cotiche di prosciutto, if you want to feel Italian) from Ursula Ferrigno’s Cucina Siciliana are a shining example.
“This deliciously rustic, hearty salad is just a perfect dish for sharing at family gatherings,” Ferrigno writes.
And while, sure, you could probably use canned beans just as easily in this recipe, we think it’s worth trying it with dried. Just remember to soak them the night before you want to serve the dish.
The end result: Creamy, tender beans in a brothy tomato sauce and the satisfaction that you didn’t even need a can opener.
From Cucina Siciliana: Fresh and Vibrant Recipes from a Unique Mediterranean Island by Ursula Ferrigno, Ryland Peters & Small, 2019.
2 or 3 dried bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, 1 whole and 2 finely minced
2 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5½ ounces (150g) prosciutto, diced
6 ripe plum tomatoes—peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a large bowl, add the beans, bay leaves, 1 whole garlic clove and enough cold water to cover. Soak the beans overnight.
2. The next day, discard the bean soaking water and replace with fresh water in a large saucepan. Mince the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Place the rosemary and minced garlic in the pan and bring to a boil. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat and cook until tender, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the prosciutto and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cannellini beans, adjust the seasoning and stir in the extra-virgin olive oil to serve.