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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Italian Cannellini Beans | Authentic Calabrian Recipe

Everyone in Italy cooks beans in their own way, so it's hard to point to a "real" recipe. This is a pretty typical Calabrian preparation! The chili pepper is optional (though highly encouraged for those who can handle some spice) but don't skip the olive oil! Trust us!

Italian Cannellini Bean Recipe

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:

Using this recipe, you can make as many beans as you like, but we don't recommend cooking less than about 7 oz. (200g) at a time. Usually a serving will come to about 3 oz. (85g).

The beans should be served on top of chunks of toasted, stale bread. To make some, tear a loaf of fresh bread into chunks, arrange them on a baking sheet, and bake at a very low temperature (about 200 degrees F) until they are very hard—about 2-3 hours.

For this recipe, you will need:

- 2-3 whole bell peppers

- Salt

- 1 garlic clove, peeled

- 1 whole dried chili pepper

- Stale bread chunks for serving

- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

- Chili powder for topping (optional)

Place the beans in a pot (terracotta is best, but not necessary) and fill with water until the beans are completely submerged.

Bring the pot to a gentle boil and cover. Never stir the beans, but occasionally swirl the pot around to mix them. Add more hot water as necessary during the cooking process to keep the beans submerged. They should be cooked until soft, but not mushy and dissolved—about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (205 C). Place the whole bell peppers on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the skin is browned. Wrap the peppers up in the parchment paper (or close in a paper bag) and allow them to cool to the touch.

The pepper skins can now be easily removed and discarded by hand. Do so, and cut the peppers either into chunks or thin strips. Salt them to taste and set aside for later.

About 5 minutes before the beans are ready, add the garlic clove, whole chili pepper, and salt to taste. Swirl the pot to mix them in. When the beans are cooked to your taste, turn off the heat.

To serve, line a bowl with stale bread chunks and ladle beans on top. Don't be afraid of the bean liquid, you want some to soak into the bread!

Top the beans with bell pepper strips, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of chili pepper. Let the dish rest for a minute or two so that the bread may soften.

Buon appetito!

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Jun 27, 2022

If you have a Mexican market or international market, Goya makes many types of dry beans. I found my Cannellini beans at a local international market that mostly specializes in Mexican foods.


Chris Pavlacka
Chris Pavlacka
Jan 29, 2022

I was wondering this too! All I could find were canned cannelloni or (white kidney beans) at my local grocery stores. 🤷🏻🤷🏻🤷🏻

Nov 15, 2023
Replying to

Around here, grocery stores are decent for dried beans (although not always the biggest variety), but bulk stores are quite reliable.


Diane MP
Diane MP
Jan 21, 2022

Oh! Memories! I ate beans with pasta twice when I was in Italy. Once in Florence, once in Siena. I was so broke, it was a cheap dish and it was delicious. I don't remember what kind of pasta it was. I had spent most of my money just getting to Italy, so I didn't splurge much on food - unfortunately - but my priority was to be there soaking up the atmosphere, the beauty, the art and architecture, the sound of the language. So, my meals were very simple and always wonderful! One dinner was bread, salami and tangerines that I had bought from a little old lady in her shop across from my room. Yes, also delicious!😋


Denis Balobin
Denis Balobin
Jan 17, 2022

are canned beans ever acceptable? 😶

Nov 15, 2023
Replying to

In my view, not really, for most dishes. Once you start cooking with dried beans (if you haven’t already) you can’t go back. Canned beans have been sitting in their liquid so long that they lose all texture and just become mush, like over cooked pasta. And while not expensive, the canned beans do cost more, so why bother (higher cost for a lesser product?).

It does take longer but if you have a pressure cooker, cooking dried beans is not bad (it varies by bean size but usually about 30 minutes). The exception is dishes where beans are pureed, like hummus. There, a texture-destroying canned bean is ok.

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