Peasant food fantasy: Sausage and beans simmered in tomato sauce

Sausage and beans simmered in tomato sauce. Credit: Olivia Vanni
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Peasant food may have its roots in poverty, but it’s so often rich in flavor.

We have a soft spot for humble food prepared with love and care. And salsicce e fagioli is no exception.

Inspired by Tuscan cuisine and its tendency to pair legumes with cured pork, this stewed specialty is delicious partly because of its sheer simplicity. We personally like to place a big pot of sausage and beans on the stove and let them simmer in a tomato base for hours on end, just like we imagine our ancestors doing long before our existence.

The key to making this dish is patience. By cooking it low and slow, both the beans and sausage begin to break down, and the taste intensifies. The finished product is pure perfection: a mixture of tender meat, creamy cannellini and sweet tomatoes that all practically melt in your mouth. We highly encourage eating it with a generous piece of crusty bread in one hand and a glass of medium-bodied red wine in the other.

3 T. olive oil1 sweet onion, finely sliced2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled1 whole carrot, peeled1 bay leaf½ t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)1 (24 oz.) jar of passata/strained tomatoes (you can also substitute for a can of tomato puree)2 (15 oz.) cans of cannellini beans1 lb. of Italian sausageSalt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or large pot with a lid, heat olive oil, onions and whole cloves of garlic on medium-low heat. Stirring occasionally, cook the onions until they turn translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.

Add whole carrot, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, tomatoes and beans. Season with salt and pepper, and stir until everything is well combined. Add in the sausage, being sure to submerge them in the sauce.

Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for two to three hours, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomato from sticking to the bottom and burning. Remove bay leaves, top with freshly grated cheese and serve.