(= Oven Cooked Zolfini Beans)
Clean the onions and then slice them, not too thinly. Put the slices in a baking tin with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated oven, at 200 °C, for roughly 15-20 minutes until soft and translucent. Rinse the beans and tip them into the tin with the onion. Add the clove of garlic “in camicia” (literally “with its shirt on”, simply crushed with the palm of your hand, without removing the skin), sage, white wine and water (previously heated). Season with salt, stir thoroughly and put the tin back in the oven, still at 200 °C. While the beans are cooking, pull the tin out from time to time, stir, and if there’s not much water left, add a little (always hot): during the first hour, the water should almost cover the beans. After 2 - 2½ hours, taste them to see if they’re cooked.
If you prefer you can soak the beans for 6-7 hours beforehand, so they cook quicker (after 1-1½ hours in the oven they should be ready). Serve them hot with a drizzle of “raw” olive oil on top.
“Zolfini” beans, which aren’t widely known even in the rest of Tuscany, have an unmistakeable flavour and distinctive appearance. Smaller than white Canellini beans and almost round; their characteristic shade of straw, or sulphur yellow, distinguishes them and gives them their name (“zolfo” means sulphur in Italian). Their skin is different too, it’s thinner. Another curiosity about Zolfini: they’re also known as “hundred beans” because they are sown on the 100th day of the year. Originating from the Pratomagno mountains, until about twenty years ago just a few farmers in the hills around Loro Ciuffenna cultivated these legumes, which were in danger of disappearing. Rediscovered and re-evaluated in recent years, they have now achieved PGI status. In the village of Penna, near to Loro Ciuffenna, each year in spring there is a festival dedicated to Zolfini.
(= Roast Potatoes)
Peel the potatoes, wash them, cut them into large “cubes” and pat them dry with a tea towel. Grease the bottom of a large baking tray with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and put the cubes of potato in it: the pieces of potato will become crispier if they don’t lie on top of each other. Season with salt and pepper, add the garlic “in camicia” (literally with its shirt on, unpeeled and slightly squashed), the sage leaves and the sprig of rosemary broken in 2 or 3 pieces, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake the potatoes in a preheated oven, at 200 °C, for 40 minutes, or even 50 if you like them crispier. Roughly every 10 minutes pull the pan out and use a wooden spoon to turn the potatoes, delicately so as not to crush them. When the cloves of garlic are golden brown, remove them; they mustn’t burn or they’ll spoil the flavour of the potatoes. Serve nice and hot as a side dish or as a main dish with other vegetables – they’re delicious in every way!