Minna’s Favorite Recipes
Minna is the name our grandchildren call my wife, Diane. She is a magnificent cook and, from time to time , we will publish her favorite recipes. Here is the first…
Tuscan Beans with Tuna, Pancetta and Lemon
A very Tuscan recipe, I found this in an early Best of Food and Wine, The Italian Collection, from Giuliano Bugialli. I’ve served it as an entrée with an insalata mista, and also served over a slice of Tuscan bread toasted and rubbed with garlic. In both cases, use a good peasant bread – Tuscan, of course, if you can. In fact, this sounds so good it might just be dinner tonight!
2 cups dried white beans (12 ounces) rinsed and picked over
¼ cup olive oil
12 large sage leaves, fresh or preserved in salt*
4 large garlic cloves
¼ pound thickly sliced pancetta or prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 can (6 ½ ounces) Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained
Freshly ground pepper
*Available at Italian markets
1. In a large bowl, soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. Alternatively, place the beans in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. At boiling point, turn off the heat, cover and set aside for 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the beans and rinse well. In a medium casserole, combine the beans with the oil, sage, garlic, pancetta and salt. Cover tightly and bake for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Remove from the oven.
(The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead. Reheat before proceeding).
3. Stir the lemon juice and tuna into the beans and bake uncovered for 10 minutes longer. Season with pepper to taste and serve hot.
A COUPLE OF NOTES:
1. You can use good quality canned beans, but they will be mushier.
2. If you are planning to serve this as an entrée, you might consider fresh tuna, which you can poach or season and sauté and serve it either chunked and gently mixed in or as a whole piece placed on top of the beans in individual dishes.