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Fagioli all’Uccelletto Recipe


I’ve been feeling very fortunate lately because, for the first time in, say, seven years, I’m not exhausted beyond belief. I’m still tired, of course, but I now possess the tiredness of the single, the childless, and the naïve. I’m tired in a way that felt so profound before I had kids, but that I now recognize as a great luxury.

My kids are getting a bit older, and they sleep—mostly—through the night. I’m also a bit more disciplined about when I go to bed, and I rarely see the other side of midnight anymore. I think it’s an age thing. An old friend of Santa Maria’s who is a poet and a woman of the world (she’s the kind of person, the kind of woman, to go on a poetry fellowship to Yemen, so you know she’s not afraid of anything) recently told her that she made one New Year’s resolution this year—to go to bed earlier. If she can do, it, so can I.

I’ve been enjoying the benefits of being better rested, and one of the biggest benefits is that I’ve been able to start having people over for dinner again. The kids go to sleep, and we start the party at the urbanely sane hour of 8:30 p.m. Just the other night I had such a successful dinner—serving my roast pork with apple and sage; broccoli rabe; and polenta—that the guests stayed until 1:30 a.m. Now that was a good party.

One of the guests was vegetarian, so I also made an old favorite of mine, Fagioli all’Uccelletto, a Tuscan standard that is both hearty and sophisticated. It’s a classic Italian dish, and everyone loved it. A close friend gave me the recipe a long time ago, back in the days when being tired meant something completely different. When I tasted it that night, I was taken back to those more innocent days, and I felt good about how far I have come.

Fagioli all’Uccelletto


  • Olive Oil
  • 1 pound dry white beans, either small cannellini, or big giganti, depending on your preferences
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • One 28 ounce can of peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (or pureed with a hand blender)
  • One bunch of fresh sage leaves (at least 3 tablespoons). Chop about half, and leave the rest of the leaves whole

Rinse and soak the beans for at least ten hours.

Drain and rinse them.

Put the beans into a stock pot with about two inches of water to cover.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer, and cook until almost tender, about 45 minutes to an hour and a half or more, depending on the beans.

Drain the beans, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil, garlic, and sage, and sauté until the garlic is tender.

Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer for about another half hour or until the beans are as tender as you desire. Note, depending on the beans this can take a while. Remove cover and increase heat to reduce at end and get the desired thickness. Add a bit of the cooking liquid from the beans if it gets too dry.

When ready to eat it, heat some more oil in a frying pan and fry the remaining sage, and serve the beans in bowls with the rest of the sage, freshly fried, on top.

Note: This freezes very well.

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