by Giulia


(Serves 6)


  • 100 g of dried borlotti beans
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 3 juniper berries
  • A few sage leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 350 g of chicken livers and hearts
  • 1 small glass of vin santo (or sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon of brined capers, rinsed and drained
  • Anchovy paste to taste
  • Toasted bread
  • Butter


  1. Soak the beans for at least twelve hours. Rinse them and put collect them in a pot with a few sage leaves and plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about an hour, or until soft.
  2. Finely chop the celery, onion, carrot, sage and shallots. Cover with olive oil the bottom of a medium saucepan and add the chopped vegetables.
    Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, then add the chicken livers and chicken hearts, the bay leaf and the crushed juniper berries. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat the liver with oil. When it is well browned, pour in the vin santo and cook for about ten minutes over low heat.
  3. Now add the borlotti beans with a few tablespoons of their cooking water and cook for ten more minutes. Only at the end, add a tablespoon of capers.
    Blend the livers to a soft but still slightly rustic texture, then put the sauce back into the saucepan and add the anchovy paste, which will give the right flavour to the liver spread. Cook for a minute over low heat.

The crostini neri, those of the Tuscan tradition, prepared with chicken livers and hearts, are part of every joyful memory of my childhood. They taste of family and protection, a safe place where I like to come back from time to time.
Growing up I wanted to play the basic ingredients. In addition to the chicken livers and hearts, I added to add to this traditional spread some cooked borlotti. I was inspired by their colour, tuning in perfectly with the chicken liver spread. They enrich the flavour and make the spread more appealing even to those who are usually doubtful about the Tuscan crostini.

Keep the spread in the fridge even for a few days and reheat it just before spreading it on bread. There are those who soak the bread in chicken broth, those who butter it or even those who simply leave the bread as it is. I opted for toasted and buttered slices of Tuscan bread.

Born and bred in Tuscany, I am a food writer and a food photographer. I live in the countryside between Siena and Florence, where I also teach Tuscan cooking classes for locals and tourists. In 2017 my fifth cookery book will be published. As for every Tuscan home cook, legumes, especially beans and chickpeas, are part of my daily life and my culinary traditions.

Find me on my blog