CALZAGATTI (Polenta and Beans)

Legend has it that the origin of this dish and its name are the result of chance: it is said that while an elderly lady was preparing polenta and, separately, some beans, when it was time to bring them to the table, she tripped over the crouched cat on the floor and the beans ended up in the polenta pot. The cat, terrified, ran away and this would explain the name “Calzagatti”, that is, chasing cats away.

  Time: 50 minutes
  Difficulty: easy
  Serves: 8


  • 500 g cornmeal (polenta)

  • 50 g butter

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 125 ml tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)

  • 400 g canned white beans, with their liquid

  • olive oil

  • salt and pepper


Boil about 1.5 litres of water in a saucepan and when it comes to a boil, pour in the cornmeal and follow the instructions to make a soft polenta which will take about about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile,  melt the butter in an earthenware clay pot (traditional) or use another preferred pot, then sauté the chopped onion until soft and golden; stir in the tomato passata as well as  half a glass of warm water.

Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. After the polenta has cooked for about 40 minutes and is almost ready, but not quite, add the sauce, and the canned beans; mix together, and continue cooking until the polenta is tender.

Traditionally, this is eaten cold, cut into slices and fried.