In a nutshell: A rare Tuscan bean that is highly sought out by chefs and legume connoisseurs for its delicate flavour and creamy texture - Toscanello is mostly baked with tomatoes, herbs and sausages in a classic Tuscan baked bean dish.
The Toscanello bean is another legendary legume popular in Tuscany. With its thin skin, which makes it very digestible, and creamy texture, this small bean is suitable for all kinds of dishes. For Tuscans (infamously known as mangiafagioli or bean eaters), it's revered as one of the finest fagiolo and is grabbed at farmers markets and food stores whenever available.
Thank the Emperor Charles V, credited with introducing the legumes to Tuscany following the European discovery of the New World, for first giving some fagioli to the Medici Pope Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) and inspiring their love affair with the humble bean in all their dishes. Today, along with the widely available cannellini bean, other rare varieties (like Sorana, Tondino di Severino, Zolfino and Coco Nano) are also cultivated.
In Tuscany, you find them used in fagioli all'uccellatto (Tuscan baked beans with tomatoes and sometimes sausages) or as the classic accompaniment to Bistecca alla Fiorentina or on bruschetta drizzled with fruity and intense extra-virgin olive oil. Traditionally, they were cooked al fiasco in a bottle or flask on the embers of a fire overnight. Today, a special earthenware pot is used for this cooking method. The favoured method is still low and slow in a pot for several hours with the water barely simmering, with sage and olive oil of course!
In Florence, you can eat this delicious bean in all the city's classic eateries, including one our favourites, Trattoria Cammillo, just off the Ponte Vecchio.
How to use:
- Its thin skin means that you don't have to be rehydrate in water for as long as other bean varieties.
- Use in a classic Tuscan ribollita soup.
- A simple salad dressed with little more than the fruitiest extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
- Make Tuscan baked beans with tomatoes and sausage.
- Add to all kinds of soups and stews.
About Il Cilegio
Close to the famous Medieval walled town of Monteriggioni in Tuscany, with its imposing turrets and walls, lies the Azienda Agricola Il Cilegio. Owned by the Pattaro family, who have been farming 140 hectares of land since 1952. Today, almost half their land is given over to olive groves and vineyards where they produce excellent Chianti and olive oil. The rest of their fields are cultivated with wonderful beans and pulses, local grains and wheats, all stoneground in their mill and sold to appreciative bakers and chefs in nearby Siena and its surrounds. A farmhouse restaurant is always busy in the summer months with locals who come to eat the classic, rustic Tuscan dishes made with the farm’s produce and is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.