Calzagatti (Pan-Fried Polenta and Beans)

Calzagatti (Pan-Fried Polenta and Beans) From Italy’s Emilia-Romagna, creamy polenta and cranberry beans are cooked together and then pan-fried. This particular version hails from Modena, famous for sports cars and Luciano Pavarotti. This recipe can also be called “casagai” or “cazzagai”. This street food makes a lovely snack or appetizer and is best served with a light red wine. Serve warm as an appetizer or alongside a salad for a light meal.


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified

Ingredient Checklist

Time Details

    PREP : 15 mins

    COOK : 25 mins

    TOTAL : 8 hrs 30 mins

    SERVING : 8

    YIELD : 8 servings

  • Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle in polenta, whisking constantly, to avoid lumps from forming. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until polenta is creamy and no longer gritty, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  • While polenta is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet. Add guanciale and saute until crispy. Add minced onion, garlic clove, and rosemary and cook until garlic is lightly browned and fragrant but not burned, about 1 minute. Remove and discard garlic clove. Stir in cranberry beans and tomatoes and simmer until thickened a bit, about 5 minutes.

  • Fold bean mixture into polenta and mix well. Pour into a 9-inch square glass dish or silicone cake pan and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.

  • Flip cooled polenta over and set out, covered with cheesecloth, to air-dry until most of the moisture has evaporated, 8 hours to overnight.

  • Cut dried polenta into 2×3-inch rectangles.

  • Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add a few polenta rectangles to the hot oil and cook until brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes, without disturbing the calzagatti. Flip, and cook until brown and crisp on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue with the rest of the calzagatti, adding more oil as necessary.

Per Serving: 218 calories; protein 5g; carbohydrates 21.1g; fat 12.9g; cholesterol 6.5mg; sodium 452.7mg. Do not use a metal dish as this may affect flavor.