Cannellini Beans with Pancetta, Fried Sage, and Grilled Sausages


Pancetta (Italian bacon) combines with aromatic fried sage to impart rich flavor to cannellini beans in this dish that's completed with a side of grilled sausages.


  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans (12 ounces)

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for seasoning

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • cup packed sage leaves

  • 6 thin slices pancetta or bacon

  • 12 sausage links, such as chicken, turkey, or pork, halved lengthwise

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 2 teaspoons truffle oil (optional)

  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Put beans in a large bowl; cover with cold water by 2 inches. Loosely cover; let soak overnight at room temperature.

  2. Drain beans; transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with cold water by 2 inches; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, adding more water if necessary to keep beans covered, until beans are tender (add 1 teaspoon salt after 45 minutes), about 1 hour. Drain beans; set aside.

  3. Heat 1 inch vegetable oil in a 4-quart heavy-bottom saucepan until it registers 365 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in small batches, fry sage leaves, turning them occasionally, until crisp, about 10 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Immediately season with salt. (Adjust heat between batches as necessary to keep oil at a steady temperature.) Coarsely crumble two-thirds of the sage leaves; set aside. Set aside whole leaves.

  4. Cook pancetta in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, turning once, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Reserve fat in skillet with heat off. Coarsely crumble pancetta; set aside.

  5. Preheat grill to medium. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium heat until hot.) Grill sausages, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 6 minutes (cooking time will depend on size of links and whether sausages are precooked). Transfer to a serving platter; cover to keep warm.

  6. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to reserved fat in skillet, and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add reserved beans and the red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until warm, about 2 minutes.

  7. Put beans in a large serving bowl, and add reserved crumbled pancetta and crumbled sage leaves, along with the truffle oil, if desired, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Season with pepper.

  8. Just before serving, drizzle beans with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and garnish with reserved whole sage leaves. Serve with sausages.

Cook's Notes

For this recipe, we used precooked chicken and turkey sausages, but just about any kind of sausage -- precooked or not -- can be used in this dish. You can substitute the dried cannellini beans with canned ones (use three 15 1/2-ounce cans). Rinse and drain the beans; then begin with step three. Truffle oil, which has a garlicky aroma and earthy taste, complements all of these ingredients. Look for it at specialty-food stores.

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