Just like our Rica bowl with Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu + Patacones we frequently made one of our favorite vegan & gluten-free stews with just a few ingredients and no kitchen appliances: Fagioli all’uccelletto. It is a Tuscan white bean stew in a tomato sauce. The stew pairs well with rustic bread from L’epi Bakery or crispy polenta since polenta is pretty cheap in Buenos Aires (500 grams for less than 50 cents).
Fagioli all’uccelletto with Crispy Polenta (Tuscan White Bean Stew)
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 (15-ounce) cans organic Great Northern beans including liquid
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes including juice
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced (white or sweet yellow onion)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 2 tsp. dried sage
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried chili flakes for mild heat (optional)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
Make crispy polenta: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add salt and garlic cloves. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the olive oil and stir until melted. Lightly oil a baking dish (we used 15-inch x 10-inch Pyrex clear baking dish). Transfer the hot polenta to the baking dish, spreading evenly to about 1-inch thick (depending on the size of the dish). Refrigerate until firm for about 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter or a glass or bowl with thin rim to cut the polenta into circles. The rest of them can be made into sticks or whatever shape. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the polenta until golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer the polenta to paper towels and drain. Lightly salt the polenta while cooking the remaining batches.
Make stew: In a saucepan or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onions and fresh or dried sage. Cook until garlic is soft and not too brown. Add reserved liquid (from the canned beans), beans, tomatoes with juice, salt and pepper to taste and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally , until thickened, about 25 to 30 minute until beans are tender. Serve immediately.
For the tomatoes, we used Strianese Whole Peeled D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes.
You can use a pound of dried beans instead of the canned beans, but the process is long. In a large saucepan, soak the dried beans in enough cold water to cover by 2 inches at least 8 hours or overnight. Then simmer the beans, covered, until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and add to the stew.
Soupy consistency: Use the liquid from all the cans and add about 1/2 cup water. Add a bit of salt to taste.
Substitutes for fresh sage: Use dried rosemary & sage if needed.
The canned beans are different in Buenos Aires than the U.S. and Spain, they are not packed with as much liquid so I had to add extra water. You don’t have to if you prefer a thicker stew. If you feel like dunking couple chunks of baguette in your stew, add a bit more water and seasonings to taste.
Opened a can of whole peeled tomatoes. Back in Oregon, we used Strianese Whole Peeled D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes. And cooking away until the stew thickens up.
Have you ever made fried polenta? Share your favorite polenta or winter soup recipe!