Ten Minute Italian Cannellini Beans with Sage and Garlic

The Italian side dish that goes with everything from chicken to pork to beef. You’ll find cannellini beans with sage in restaurants all over Tuscany especially! Canned cannellini beans and the aquafaba liquid inside team up with garlic and fresh sage to make a rustic vegetable dish perfect for any menu.

close up of cannellini beans with fresh sage leaves and parmesan.

One key memory from a trip to Italy was one of the very first meals I ate at a little trattoria on the way to our house in Tuscany. My parents are so good at finding little restaurant gems no matter where they are and (no surprise) Italy is loaded with them.

After being acquainted with the menu and reassured that I didn’t have to order something from each course (primi piatti, secondi piatta – first plate and second plate, respectively), my parents ordered some cannellini beans to go with our meal.

I had no idea what was coming or that I would still be thinking about those beans twenty years later.

Twenty years later —I’m still thinking about those beans.

skillet of a black spoon scooping up cannellini beans with sage and parmesan shards.

Maybe you really don’t care and just want to skip to the recipe, but if you want to know more, I’m happy to oblige.

Here’s how we eat them at home:

And why I love serving them at Italian meals:

  • Ultimate in simplicity. One of the things I learned about Italian cooking from traveling to Italy is that the cooks make the most of what is available to them. They are using fresh produce from the market and shop pretty much every day. This cannellini bean salad (or is it a side?) only takes 10 minutes to make. Simple, right?
  • Few ingredients. In Italian cooking, less is always more. And white beans with sage and garlic pretty much means the dish has the best white beans with the freshest sage leaves and gorgeous, bright white garlic. Quality always over quantity!
  • Flavor party. The beautiful thing about beans is they soak up whatever they’re paired with and the slivered sage and garlic-scented oil is a flavor powerhouse.

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Ingredient rundown

Ingredients for cannellini beans with sage and garlic.

It’s a quick list:

  • Cannellini beans. From the can. These are essentially white kidney beans.
  • Aquafaba: That’s the milky liquid inside the can of beans that normally gets drained off and is the key to the creaminess factor of this bean dish.
  • Sage leaves. Fresh big ones that I opened up and sizzled in garlic oil.
  • Garlic. A big white head of garlic whose cloves I sliced up paper thin.

How I whip up cannellini beans with sage and garlic

  1. Start with two cans (15 oz each) of cannellini beans.
  2. Drain and keep the aquafaba from one can and set aside.
  3. Rinse the beans from the first can along with the beans from the other can.
  4. Peel and slice the garlic cloves super thin with a sharp knife.
  5. In a small skillet, heat the oil on low until barely simmering and add the garlic slices and sage leaves.

Pro tip

When buying fresh sage leaves, make sure to open them up before frying them. They’ll be much prettier this way too!

Cannellini beans: step by step photos and tips

knife smashing garlic cloves to peel them.
Smash garlic cloves with the side of a knife blade and remove the skins.
wooden cutting board of thinly sliced garlic with fresh sage leaves.
Thinly slice the garlic as shown.
skillet of garlic slices and sage leaves added to simmering olive oil
Heat some olive oil and add the garlic and sage.
stainless skillet of sliced garlic and sage leaves simmering in olive oil.
This is how the garlic and sage should look after flavoring the oil.
skillet of cannellini beans with olive, sage and garlic.
Add to the skillet with the drained beans and aquafaba.
black spoonula stirring sage leaves into cannellini beans and oil in a skillet.
Stir until creamy. Taste and add kosher salt, pepper, and spice as needed.

My favorite ways to serve and store

Serving tips

Spoon inside crisp romaine lettuce cups and served up on a big platter.

Tossed with hot pasta, sliced pan seared chicken breasts and a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of pasta water. Sprinkle over fresh grated Parmesan.

Storage

Refrigerate in an airtight resealable preferably glass container for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before gently stirring to serve.

Made this recipe?

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close up of cannellini beans with fresh sage leaves and parmesan.
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Ten Minute Italian Cannellini Beans with Sage and Garlic

The Italian side dish that goes with everything from chicken to pork to beef. You'll find cannellini beans with sage in restaurants all over Tuscany especially! Canned cannellini beans and the aquafaba liquid inside team up with garlic and fresh sage to make a rustic vegetable dish perfect for any menu.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:5 minutes
Total Time:10 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Open both cans of cannellini beans. Drain one in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, reserving the aquafaba (milky liquid). Drain the other can completely and rinse the beans.
  • On a wooden cutting board, press your palm on the side of the knife blade to firmly "whack" the garlic cloves to remove the skin. Peel the cloves.
    Slice the garlic very thinly. You can also use a mandoline but be very careful!
  • Remove the leaves from the stems on the sage. Open any curled leaves and press flat
  • Heat olive oil over medium skillet on low until small bubbles form. Add garlic and sage and "fry" until garlic is golden brown and sage darkens.
    Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • To the skillet, add the beans, ½ of the aquafaba to start and toss gently to combine the oil, garlic and sage. Taste and add more aquafaba as desired.
    Top with thin shards of parmesan cheese, more small sage leaves and healthy amounts of kosher salt and pepper.

Notes

  • Crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper can be added for spicy flavor.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

Taste memory recipes

Dishes like these cannellini beans leave their mark or. as I like to call them, ‘taste memories’ and they’re are all over Josie + Nina. Probably because I’ll soon be starting my 6th decade and also because food isn’t something my family and I kid about. It’s serious business – you should read our text chains around Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Here are some more of my favorite taste memories:

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