Toasted bread, rubbed with cut garlic cloves and anointed generously with olive oil, is known most places as bruschetta (pronounced bru SKET ta, please). Except. If you are in Tuscany, the word for this treat is fettunta, or fett’ unta, meaning “oiled slice.”
My first memory of fettunta goes back to a simple Sunday supper many years ago. After a long country walk, our friend Elena toasted bread on a hand-held rack before rubbing the slices with garlic and ladling on warm white beans. At the table, we seasoned the dish to our own taste, adding salt, pepper and dense, peppery olive oil.
As with most simple dishes, the ingredients must be the best. Elena used coarse unsalted Tuscan bread. The beans had been simmering with sage all afternoon. The oil had been pressed from local olives.
Making fettunta, as I have for forty years, I try to honor those values. The version shown here is made with fat cranberry beans, grown in Maine, that came in a recent
CSA farm market basket. I used whole-grain bread from Iggy’s, our favorite Cambridge bakery. For more vitamins and flavor, I added a layer of finely cut, blanched kale.
It’s possible to embellish more. For one make-your-own fettunta dinner, we laid out prosciutto and other cured meats, diced tomatoes and raw sweet onion slices in addition to beans and greens.
The only constant for fettunta is the ritual of toasting good bread and rubbing with raw garlic. And, of course, finishing with good olive oil.
This makes a perfectly balanced--and perfectly delicious--meal.
- 1 small bunch Tuscan kale (laminate variety) or curly-leaf kale
- 4 cups white beans with sage and garlic see following recipe
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large slices white or whole-grain rustic bread
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and halved
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°F. Cut off tough kale stem ends. Cut leaves (including stems) cross-wise in shreds.
2) Heat beans over low heat in a medium saucepan; season to taste with salt. Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan with cold water; bring to a boil. Cook kale, reducing heat if it becomes too fierce, until stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; season with salt.
3) Toast bread until crisp but not browned. While still warm, rub both sides with garlic clove halves.
4) To serve: Place toasted bread on plates. Ladle beans and a little of the cooking liquid on top. Spread seasoned kale over each slice. Season with pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil; pass a small pitcher of olive oil at the table for diners to add more if they like.
- 1 pound cranberry beans or other beans*
- 1 large sprig fresh sage
- 2 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- sea salt or kosher salt
Soak beans in a large saucepan for several hours or overnight. Alternatively, bring to a simmer and turn off heat. Let stand for 1 hour.
Drain beans and wash under running water. Return beans to saucepan and cover with fresh cold water to a depth of several inches above beans. Add sage and garlic.
Bring bean mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a bare simmer, partially cover, and cook until beans are tender but still hold their shape, 1 hour or more. Season lightly with salt.
* The same method can be used for other dried beans, including white cannellini beans, chickpeas, and various kinds of heirloom beans; Tuscany’s prized zolfini beans require longer soaking, about 12 hours, as well as longer cooking, up to 4 hours.