Tuscan Baked Beans (fagioli al forno)

Fagioli al Forno -Italian Baked Beans – is a popular Northern Italian Dish.

Beans have always been a popular peasant food, but, during the Renaissance, Catherine de Medici wanted to refine Italian cuisine, and beans fell out of favor with the nobility and the sophisticated. The poor however couldn’t be particular — they still made their bean dishes.

It wasn’t long before before beans became popular again because when something tastes good and is good for you it comes back into vogue. In Tuscany, beans are such a  staple in the regional cuisine that the Tuscans have the nickname of ” beaneaters”, although beans are eaten all over Italy.

Beans can be made into any number of delicious and nutritious soups and stews, or served as a basis of a hearty salad such as tonno e fagioli (tuna and beans). One very popular Tuscan dish is fagioli all’uccelletto (beans cooked like little birds). The recipe consists of cooking cannellini beans then combining them with chopped garlic, fresh sage leaves and tomatoes and simmered for about 15 minutes, until tender and fragrant. The dish is sometimes served with coarse country sausage.

Simple ingredients and ordinary seasonings combine to make some of the most delicious dishes. The Italians have a saying: La fame è il miglior cuoco che ci sia { Hunger makes the best cook}.

This is my favorite simple baked bean dish and you can certainly make it without the bacon if you want to keep it vegan.

Serve hot out of the oven with a drizzle of fresh olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon.




1 lb  or 2 2/3 cups Dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbs Chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
6 slices Streaky (fatty) bacon or pancetta, coarsely chopped



  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F
  2. Place the beans, garlic, basil, seasoning, cinnamon and bacon in a large ovenproof casserole. Stir and add just enough water to cover the mixture. Cover and put the casserole into the oven. Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until the beans are very tender but still firm.
  3. Remove from the oven, strain off any excess liquid and serve at once.


(Note: if you wish for a little more crispiness simply remove the cover and turn the heat up for the last 15 minutes of cooking)

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