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!
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
- 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.