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Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy

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by Judith Barrett
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This is a new edition of a work which first appeared in 2004, revised and expanded and now published by the bean mavens at Rancho Gordo where founder Steve Sando noted, “Without understanding Italy’s relationship to beans, our understanding of the cuisine is just superficial.”

Judith Barrett, a food journalist who has written three other books on Italian cuisine, has written Fagioli as if it might be the only bean book you own. She includes thorough instructions on soaking and cooking beans, including by pressure cooker, and introduces us to the most common Italian bean varieties. Here she explains not only their distinctive tastes and textures, but also their regional associations. A handy substitute guide lets you know you can replace the small white purgatorio bean with navy beans and that there is no good alternative to fava beans.

Recipes are arranged in chapters by course and include everything from antipasti and salad to soups, bean-and-pasta dishes, and main courses.

You might be tempted to try:

  • Salad of lentils and cheese from Umbria, ready in less than an hour
  • Roman beans with guanciale, a rich dish with some of the flavors of pasta carbonara
  • Chickpea braised with Swiss chard or spinach, a typical Tuscan preparation
  • Calabrian-style pasta and beans, which includes mushrooms, lentils, chickpeas, cannelini beans, fava beans, Savoy cabbage, and broken-up spaghetti
  • Jota, from Trieste: a stew of beans, bacon, potatoes, and sauerkraut

Very few of the dishes demand involved kitchen work, and nearly everyone which calls for meat could easily be made vegetarian or vegan with minimal substitutions. Fagioli is a friendly book with the power to inspire simple cooking.

Hardcover. Watercolor illustrations.

Published: May 1, 2023

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