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Roberto's Shell Beans

Courtesy of Roberto Tacchi


Beans from 5 pounds of fresh shell bean pods (technically called Borlotti Beans)

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Diced garlic to taste (at least 5 or 6 fat cloves)

Fresh sage leaves (deveined and cut into pieces) to taste (at least 8 or 10 leaves)

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed, one 28 ounce can and one 15.5 ounce can

Sea salt to taste



Simmer the beans in unsalted water until just tender.

While the beans are simmering, add the extra virgin olive oil to a saucepan and sauté the garlic until it blooms. Add the sage leaves and sauté until they bloom. Add the San Marzano tomatoes and red pepper flakes, simmering about 20 minutes.

When the beans are done, drain and return them to their pot. Combine the beans and sauce and simmer about half an hour. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve as a main course with crusty rustic bread, a little salad and a glass of wine. Leftovers freeze well.

Cook’s Note. The flavor of San Marzano tomatoes is more intense than that of regular tomatoes and they are less acidic. They make a big difference in the recipe. Sometimes I will add a diced fresh Jalapeño pepper for variety.

The Florentines are known as the “bean eaters” of Italy, and this recipe comes from the Florentine Roberto Tacchi, whose relatives have carved wood for five generations. Roberto is an artist who is known for having carved the altar which holds Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World). Roberto has also restored historic wood carvings for the Vatican and carved the chapel at Marianwood Nursing Home in Issaquah, WA.