Sauces & Rubs

By Joanne Bruno | June 23, 2011

Photo: Joanne Bruno

I am a fall baby.

Sure, if you ask my mother, I was born at the very end of a blustery and frigid February, about a month early, looking very much like a chicken.  But I’m willing to place money on the fact that neither of those statements are true.

They can’t be.

Because I am a fall baby.  And that’s all there is to it.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

By which I mean that if you were to place me in a world where it was fall all year round.  A world rife with pumpkins and sweet potato pies and brussels sprouts.  I would not miss for a thing.

In fact, in all likelihood I’d be so deliriously happy that I’d need to be medicated.  True story.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Given how much time I spend pondering fall ingredients and flavor combinations, I consider myself a bit of an expert on the subject.  Which is why I was incredibly surprised when I received sage in my CSA box last week.

Sage?  The herb that is quintessentially paired with pumpkin and nutmeg and cinnamon and a brown butter sauce?  The herb that one throws into their Thanksgiving stuffing along with apples and dried figs and really good quality crusty bread?

What was it doing amongst my butter lettuce and rhubarb and garlic scapes?  What use did it have in such an un-autumnal setting?

To say that I was thrown for a loop is an understatement.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

So I searched and I searched and what I ultimately came up with was quite a number of recipes that paired white beans and garlic with sage.

Apparently this is some sort of classic triad of ingredients that has mysteriously evaded me for my entire life.

Who’d have thunk it?

The only thing to do, of course, was to try it myself.  So I whipped up a hummus-like spread, smeared it on some sour rye bread, and took a bite.  Or two.  Or thirty.

I lost count after the third slice of bread.

Let’s just say that I am now a sage-in-spring convert.  And that the combination of creamy white beans paired with the almost sweet roasted garlic and heart-warming woodsy sage really is a trilogy to be remembered.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

Makes about 2 cups, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Joanne Bruno is a food writer and second year medical student.  Find more of her delicious ramblings over at her blog: Eats Well With Others.  Joanne is also training for her third marathon with Team in Training, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  For more information or to make a donation, check out her fundraising website.

Photo: Joanne Bruno

  • 1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole head garlic, outermost papery husk removed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


1. Put the beans in a large pot. Add water to the pot, covering the beans by 2 inches. Add garlic cloves, sage leaves, bay leaves, and a large pinch of salt to the water. Simmer, covered, until the beans are tendered, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves and drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350. Spray the head of garlic with olive oil cooking spray. Put it in a small baking dish and add 1/3 cup water. Bake until soft and lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool and then squeeze out roasted garlic cloves.

3. Puree the bean/sage mixture in a food processor along with all the garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, and enough of the bean broth to give the beans a spreadable consistency. Season to tastes with lemon juice, salt and black pepper.

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