When I’m craving comfort food, I usually go Italian. Pasta served with homemade tomato sauce. Just like my grandma used to make. A big bowl of creamy polenta topped with sauteed, garlicky greens. Or, roasted veggies tossed with fresh vegan pesto.
I have to say, my favorite Italian comfort food dishes are the simplest. Fresh ingredients prepared with just the right amount of spice. They’re hearty. Satisfying. And wonderfully, wonderfully, uncomplicated.
For me, fagioli all’olio (white beans with olive oil) is one of those dishes.
Cannellini beans simmered with whole cloves of garlic, fresh sage leaves, and olive oil. Until they turn buttery and soft. I like them served in a few spoonfuls of their cooking broth and finished with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper. Sometimes, I sprinkle some chopped, fresh sage leaves on top. And (this is a requirement, folks!), they must be served with a few slices of crusty bread. To sop up that delicious herbed broth.
I made a batch of fagioli all’olio for dinner last night, thinking it the best way to use up the last bit of dried cannellini beans lingering in the back of my pantry. And they were everything I hoped they’d be, right down to the side salad and warm, crusty bread.
So, on this dark, gloomy, rain-soaked Saturday, when comfort food called, my leftover fagioli all’olio answered.
Since I don’t typically like to eat the same meals two days in a row, I decided to try something new tonight. Yup, I doctored up my beans! With roasted yellow peppers and tomatoes, olives, garlic, and sage.
Fagioli all’olio with a twist. (Or, with the “volume turned up.” Isn’t that what the Barefoot Contessa calls it?) Simple. And every bit as fantastic as the original!
Fagioli all’Olio with Tomatoes, Olives, Yellow Peppers, and Sage
12 oz dried cannellini beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
4 cups water
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
8-10 fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Add-ins (per serving):
3-4 cherry tomatoes, halved (or as many as you’d like)
4-5 slices yellow bell pepper (or as many as you’d like)
4 black olives, sliced (I recommend marinated olives, fresh from an olive bar, if you can get them. But the canned variety will work, too.)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
3-4 chopped, fresh sage leaves, or, to taste (I love fresh sage, so I don’t mind being a little heavy-handed when cooking for myself. I used about 5 sage leaves. But, because it does have a very strong flavor, I encourage you to start with a little bit, maybe 1 or 2 leaves, chopped, and add more, to taste.)
salt and pepper
In a heavy bottom pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add beans, garlic cloves, whole sage leaves, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until beans are soft, stirring occasionally, 1-1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400. On a sheet tray, toss tomatoes and peppers with 1 tsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until peppers are soft and tomatoes burst, about 15 min.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, and saute until it begins to soften, about 1 min. Add 1 serving of cooked beans and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid (or water), roasted peppers and tomatoes, and olives. Simmer for 2-3 min. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and toss with chopped sage to serve.