The main lessons I learnt on my trip last month to Italy with Cirio were that less is more, and cook quality ingredients simply. Buying the cheapest ingredients can indeed be a false economy, and it is a matter of knowing what to spend on and what to save on.
The classic Tuscan dish of Fagioli all’uccelletto – beans in tomato sauce, is a prime example of a frugal, but delicious dish – by buying a premium tomato such as Cirio frugal beans are made into something really rather special, and a frugal meal becomes a treat rather than a penance.
We ate these beans in Osteria dal 1931 in Trastevere, Rome. I am sure that my version is not that authentic, but certainly carries the spirit and sentiment of the original.
A few notes on cooking beans – I far prefer to cook my beans from dried, they taste far superior, packets of dried beans are cheaper and easier to transport home from the supermarket than tins. I soak overnight and then gently simmer the beans, either on the hob or in the slow cooker. I find that with a fast boil that the beans can go from hard to mush very fast, or the inside cooks and expands whist the skin is still tight causing the beans to split. When soaking beans I place the beans in a bowl, add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, cover with boiling water and soak overnight. Before cooking drain, rinse and cook in fresh water. You can, if you run out of time, freeze the soaked beans and finish cooking them another time. With an overnight soak and the bicarb treatment I find that all dried beans and pulses cook really fast (about 20 minutes for chickpeas – but timings will vary according to how old the beans are).
I really recommend making a big batch of this and freezing some. As with all these type of dishes it is immeasurably better when left to get cold and then reheated. Serve with some hot dogs!
Fagioli all’uccelletto - beans in tomato sauce
- 200 g dried beans – I used pinto (a dried white bean is more Tuscan and would work just as well)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tbs good olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- A few fresh sage leaves (or a pinch of dried herbs)
- 540 g bottle Cirio passata
- 70 g pot Cirio tomato puree
- The night before you make the dish place the beans and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set to one side and allow to soak overnight.
- Drain the beans and rinse well. Put into a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and let them simmer until three quarters done – so the outside of the bean is soft, but the centre is still chalky, this will take between 20 – 40 minutes depending on the type and size of bean. Drain and rinse, reserving a cup of the cooking water.
- Whilst the beans are cooking gently heat the garlic and herbs in the olive oil, in a large frying pan, you want them to infuse rather than cook.
- Add the passata (rinse the bottle out with a splash of the bean soaking water), puree to the pan and the beans, stir, season with salt and pepper and allow to cook on the lowest heat for about an hour until the beans are tender, add some of the bean cooking water during this time if needed.
- Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a liberal sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper.
I am so impressed with the Cirio passata, thick, silky smooth and richly flavoured it is delicious straight from the bottle, and would make a very good base for a bloody Mary too. It comes in plastic bottles, so if you only use half a bottle simply put the lid back on and pop into the freezer until you next need some.
Fuss Free Flavours was commissioned by Cirio to travel to Italy on a journey to discover the #TrueItalian food. All opinions are my own.
A slow cooker beef curry
a delicious spaghetti bolognese
Beautiful and definitely takes me back to our Italian adventures! Lovely for a veggie like me too. My husband would probably add bacon :)
I did add bacon when we ate it last night!
A spicy veg casserole.
I’d use it in virtually everything, lasagne, chilli, pasta bake
Quorn chilli for me!
I would make an amazing spagbol :)
A homemade pizza margherita
chilli con carne
A mediterranean bean dish made with onions, tinned tomatoes butter beans and mint. Gorgeous hot or cold!!
Thank you for the recipie
I use a lot of tomatoes in curries so that is what I would use it for if I won x
Chilli – nice and hot !
sarah clarke feltham
A lovely Rogan Josh :)
a nice Lasagne
Chilli Con Carne :)
One of the family’s favourites, Spaghetti Bolonese :)
spaghetti Bolognese would go down well
Quorn bolognese and chilli.
slow cooker pulled pork
I would make some spicy pizza base sauces
Spaghetti bolognese yummy
I like to cook white fish in a tomato, basil and garlic sauce so I would start with that.
chicken curry mmm
A nice ratatouille
A veggie lasagne
Chilli non-carne :)
Meatballs and Spaghetti
Spag bol x
chilli con carne
Its Lasagne for me
A creamy lasagne!
My tomato and pepper sauce.
I’d make a caponata with aubergines, tomatoes, capers and olives
I would try your recipe first. It sounds lovely and simple. I find that the Italian names for dishes make it sound so much more posh and exotic than the English version. Beans in tomato sauce doesn’t sound very exciting, but it looks fantastic and your words make me want to eat it right up!
Thank you ELizabeth. This recipe is a keeper, and could also be used as a pasta sauce too.
Alexandra Mercer (Life of mummy)
Judith Allen (@JudeVFR400)
Garlicky mushroom and tomato sauce for pasta. Simple and very yummy.
As I’m part Italian this screams comfort to me!!
Tuna pasta bake yum
Spicy veggie chilli
Pasta with tomato sauce and olives, with a bit of grated cheese on top, nomnomnom :)
Tomato soup for me
Spaghetti Bolognese, I crave it after a few weeks of not having it.
lasagne the family favourite
I would use them in a vegetable curry.
Franglais kitchen, Nazima
ooh a lovely idea this beany tomato stew is perfect comfort fare.
I’d cook a bolognese sauce.
Two main dishes – Chilli and an old stew recipe involving layer of meat, onions, carrots and potatoes with chopped tomatoes!
I would make lasagna.
perfect for making pizza sauce :)
would use them in Chilli con carne
Bolognese using Quorn mince.
spaghetti bolognese, not exciting but always popular
I would make a fab tomato based chilli
a Spaghetti Bolognese , my families favourite
A veggie lasagne :)
I’d love it in a spicy veggie rogan josh.
use a basis for a home made pasta sauce
I use it as a base for red sauce for lasagne
Gazpacho – I have used tinned tomatoes when there aren’t enough good flavoured fresh ones, useful for a quick meal too.
I love pasta dishes, so something like a classic lasagne.
Sarah Maison Cupcake
Oh if only Ted would eat beans of any variety :-(. I can’t complain because he isn’t remotely fussy but he simply refuses to eat beans or pulses of any variety hence we don’t eat as many as a family as we otherwise would.
A good chilli I think!
Many different dishes, but particularly as a base of a pasta sauce.
Michelle @ Greedy Gourmet
Oh, so it’s like the Italian version of British baked beans? Looks good!
A lovely home made BBQ sauce using Tinned tomatoes, red onion, garlic, honey, mustard, vinegar, worcestershire sauce and a dash of curry powder
George Worboys Wright
Huevos Rancheros is our favourite thing to make with Cirio tomatoes at the moment!
Robyn Logan Clarke
Arabiatta sauce with penne and pecorino
Italian Sausage tomato Soup
Tomato soup, my favourite!
My spicy tomato pasta.
Leona S Fisher
A lovely spag bol!
A Beautiful Bolognese :)
Susan Joyce Rogers
chilli con carne
I would be quite boring and make a spagetti bolognase. Firm family favourite.
A nice spaghetti bolognese x
Terence Raymond Lewis
lasagne!! so yummy! faye x
homemade fresh pizza
Ooh a nice hearty chilli :)
A hot n spicy beef chilli
a fabulous minestrone
A lovely Quorn lasagne
A veggie bolognese.
gnocchi alla Sorrentina
A curry! :)
I’d love to reduce the sauce and use it on pizza!
I would use it to make a spicy Moroccan dish with lots of veggies and baked eggs in it.
A chilli in the slow cooker
spaghettii bolognese omelette
Put it on Macaroni Cheese
Tomatoes are the most versatile product in my cooking cupboard. Use them in loads of different ways. Currently whilst peppers are abundant, I love to cook up a little minced beef, add herbs & tomatoes, fill the peppers (red, green and/or yellow) and top up with cheese and cook them in the halogen oven for around 20 minutes.
If you are vegetarian or just like a change, use brown breadcrumbs, herbs & tomatoes, add an egg for binding, top with cheese again – delicious.
baked tomato burgers. They are yum!
Ingrid (aka Dollphin)
chilli con carne
spag bol :)
A fiery chilli or a very simple pasta dish
A tomato and peanut african soup to help with my diet :)
Roast veggie lasagne
A pasta sauce
Chilli Con Carne
an amazing lasagne
Spicy beef lasagne
Roasted vegetable lasagne :)
I would make a ratatouille to go with sea bass
Tomato and basil soup
A really tomatoey curry
Spagetti Bolognese :)
I would make a sausage and bean casserole
I’d make some superb and simple tomato and garlic spaghetti
Tomato and spinach curry
Home made meatballs with tomato and basil sauce
I would cook spaghetti puttanecsa
vegetarian spaghetti and meatballs
Emily Jayne Phipps
Spag bol, always a winner :D
Spaghetti bolognese, it always goes down well
Meatballs & spaghetti
You know it is lovely to see lovely, clean and simple recipes like these because you really demonstrate how easy it is to achieve full flavour and that opening a salt and sugary can of precooked beans in tomato sauce is not the only way x
thank you Deena, we really enjoyed these.