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White Beans with Fennel and Sage

White Beans with Fennel and Sage

This recipe is a simplified version of an Italian dish called fagioli all’uccelletto, which is a Tuscan take on baked beans. It’s warm, comforting, and comes together in 30 minutes - perfect for busy weeknights in winter. The sage leaves and fennel give it an earthy flavor, but if you’re in a pinch and can’t find fennel, celery will do. 

This dish is filling and enough to serve on its own, but it’s also excellent with a large piece of rustic bread or when accompanying pork or chicken dishes.

Adapted from Milk Street.

Cook time: 30 minutes Servings 4


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage, plus 20 whole leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 15.5oz cans of cannellini beans (one can drained and rinsed, and one can including liquid)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to serve


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, chopped sage, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir ingredients together and cover. Cook vegetables until tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes and beans and mix together. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Adjust heat to bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels and heat remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the whole sage leaves to the skillet and cook flipping once, about 1 minute per side, until edges begin to curl. Move leaves to your prepared plate and reserve the olive oil.
  4. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl, and drizzle the sage oil on top. Crumble the sage leaves over the beans and top with Parmesan cheese.