December 3, 2012

Baked Cannelini Beans with Sage and Proscuitto

A wise person once said that the path to success is paved with failure.  Well, the proof is in the pudding or shall I say, the baked cannelini beans.  Earlier this week I tried to be a culinary wizard by inventing a “lazy man’s” pork bun.  I steamed Pilsbury Buttermilk Biscuits and made a quick pulled pork by boiling pork loin in chicken stock and Hoisin sauce.  There are so many things wrong with this picture.  First of all, I committed a cardinal sin by not browning my pork before boiling it.  Second of all, Hoisin sauce smells horrendous when boiled for an hour.  And third of all, pork loin is the worst cut of pork to make pulled pork with.  The result of this sorcery was rubbery dog food in a trans fat bun.  That didn’t stop me from eating two of them, because I’m hungry like that, but I had a mild panic attack over what my experimental buns might have done to my insides. 

They look good don't they?  Yeah, too bad...
A day later, I spent two hours attempting to recreate Frankies Spuntino’s Beet and Avocado salad but my farmers market beets were the size of bocce balls and didn’t cook all the way through.  Since I’m such a hasty and overexcited cook, I decided they were done enough.  They most certainly were not done enough but that wasn’t what caused me to throw my hard work in the trash.  It was the fact that, when mixed with the balsamic dressing, the avocado and beets turned into well…..this….

Not an appetizing picture.  So I tried this...

 Even stupider...

I realized that for photography’s sake I should have sliced the beets and avocado thinly, alternated them on a plate like a caprese and drizzled the dressing on top.  But it’s hard to be a cook-in-training, recipe writer, recipe tester, food stylist and food photographer all at once.  I had a Julie Powell-esque meltdown (just ask my significant other) and vowed I would never cook again.  Later that night my passion was restored by a dinner our friends threw for us in their dreamy apartment.  We were served an irresistible cheese course followed by sinful braised duck legs, delicately shaved Brussels sprouts and red onion salad, a heap of roasted Christmas tree-shaped romanesco and a side of sweet baked pears.  I drank my weight in red wine and port that night and said a lot of stuff I don’t quite remember, but was inspired to give this week’s post one more try.   My third recipe attempt of the week, these baked cannelini beans with crispy sage and prosciutto, were easy, quick and flavor blasted, just the way I like my weeknight dinners.  If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…with beans.


Makes 2 servings

1 (15 ounce) can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 slices prosciutto, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
12 turns freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
Fresh lemon juice
Freshly shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2.  In a bowl, combine beans, sage, prosciutto, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread out in one layer on a foil lined baking sheet.   Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on top of the beans.

3.  Drizzle more olive oil (about another tablespoon or less) on top of everything and place beans in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the sage and prosciutto are crisping up and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

4.  Remove beans from the oven, sprinkle lightly with fresh lemon juice and generously with freshly shaved Parmesan or Pecorino.  Serve.


  1. "But it’s hard to be a cook-in-training, recipe writer, recipe tester, food stylist and food photographer all at once."

    Story of my life! Even if there is a possibility of photographically saving some ugly IRL food, by the time you've finished chopping, cooking, and plating for the 2nd or 3rd time, you just do. not. care. anymore. My husband always tries to get me to plate things a few different ways, but I'm so hungry and tired at the end that if it doesn't work the first time, I chalk it up to a learning experience and move on with my life.

    These beans, on the other hand, are lovely and look like something I could make handily (and beautifully) on any weeknight.

  2. Haha, totally! It can get pretty frustrating at times..especially since food starts to lose it's shine and height within minutes. I'm still trying to find a way to make steamed artichokes look good, it's impossible!