This cannellini beans with sausage dish has had quite a journey through time and continents. It is not only comfort food for Eastern Europeans, but for the French, Italians, and even Americans. Whether it is a cassoulet or fagioli, a bake or a hot pot, this dish features on family tables, be it for a week day dinner, or a relaxed weekend lunch.
This type of white bean came from the New World, as a gift to the Pope Clement VII, who gave it to Catherine de Medici to include in her dowery to her future husband, the Dauphin of France. This is how the bean spread throughout France, becoming one of its staple dishes: the cassoulet. It went on to conquer Europe, being far more hardy than the native broad bean.
In Romania, this dish is for the winter. We use the dried varieties of beans that we can only find at markets, in large hessian sacks, next to dried nuts and fruits. A 1kg paper bag will suffice for a hearty dinner. We soak them overnight in salty water, more or less like a brine. While cooking, we refresh the water 2 or 3 times, in order to make them a little friendlier to the digestive system. It is worth buying dried beans as opposed to canned, only because you will understand the difference right away: better flavour, bite, and a firmer texture.
The unique thing about the way we eat the beans with sausages, is that we accompany them with pickles: green tomatoes or green chillies. The sourness and saltiness of the pickles cut through the fatiness of the sausages. Usually the pickle already contains some dill and fennel, so you get their herby flavour to complement the dish. I’ve just put the herbs with the beans: the sage goes wonderfully well with this earthy dish.
So here is how you make it:
600g dry white (cannelloni) beans or 2 bean tins – if you’d like a shortcut
4 sausages (your favourite flavour)
4 tbs grasped oil (or any oil you prefer)
1 bunch of sage (roughly chopped)
salt and pepper
4-5 pickled green chillies
A day before: soak the dry beans in water with 2 tsp salt. The water needs to cover the beans. Leave at room temperature. Before you start cooking, rinse the beans in fresh water.
Get a roasting pan, put the rinsed beans, oil, salt and pepper, sage and sausages. Mix together and put in the oven at 180C for 30min. Add more water if necessary. When the sausages are cooked, it is ready.
Serve with pickled chillies.