Borlotti beans are some of the most colorful and beautiful beans you can find. This hearty ingredient is also called cranberry beans. It is a light beige-pink color with spots of red-brown all over. You can put it in casseroles, as a side dish, in a soup, or if you cook it and let it cool, you can put it in a salad. The borlotti bean is popular in Italy and Portugal. It can be used in many ways and is easy to cook. Even if the beans lose their bright colors when cooked, they’ll still have their creamy texture.
What are Borlotti Beans?
The borlotti bean comes from the same wild bean species as the Phaseolus vulgaris, or kidney bean. The kidney bean is smooth and has only one color, but the borlotti bean, also called a cranberry bean, has pink, red, brown, and beige spots. It’s a pretty food, but the bright colors turn a light brown once cooked.
The borlotti bean is a staple in Italian and Portuguese cooking. It is used in stewed beans with olive oil and tomato, pumpkin farro soup with borlotti beans, and Feijao a Portuguesa, which is made with beans, paprika, bacon, sausage, chile peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Even though they are native to the Americas, most of the borlotti beans eaten in these countries come from the Americas. This bean is often called a cranberry bean in these places, but in Europe, it is more often called a borlotti.
Most of the time, dried and shelled borlotti beans are sold. They should be soaked before cooking for the best results. Borlotti beans still in their shells do not need to be soaked before they are cooked. Because they are a bit of a specialty item in the U.S., they cost a little more than many other dried and fresh beans.
How to Make Borlotti Beans Recipe?
A simple, hearty bean stew that tastes great and is easy to make. You will love these Italian Borlotti beans cooked down weeks, garlic, and olive oil until they are thick and creamy. It has a nutty, savory flavor that goes well with the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Soaking dried borlotti beans overnight is the best way to cook them. You can also use a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process. The borlotti bean is nice because it doesn’t get mushy when overcooked. It keeps its shape well in a soup or baked dish, even after reheating.
Borlotti beans can be cooked and served like any other bean. There are many ways to cook and eat this bean, and its sweet, nutty taste goes well with many herbs, spices, vegetables, and proteins. The creamy texture is a side dish or the main bean in a casserole or salad. Or, mix it with meat and vegetables to make a hearty stew, or mix it with other beans to make a pickled three-bean salad.
- One large yellow onion or one leek chopped and rinsed well
- Five garlic cloves minced
- 2.5 cups borlotti beans dried
- 2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 2-3 Tbsp brined capers roughly chopped
- 7-8 Tbsp tomato paste double concentrated
- 1 Tbsp chili paste optional for heat
- 2-3 strips of lemon peel
- Three sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Two bay leaves
- 3 tsp onion powder
- 7-8 cups of water
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley roughly chopped
- S + P to taste
- Rinse the borlotti beans and let them soak for 6 hours or overnight in cold water. Drain again and rinse.
- Put a drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed soup pot and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion or leek and cook it until it softens and starts to turn color around the edges.
- Add the fennel seeds and toast them until they smell good, then add the garlic and capers. Keep cooking for another minute or so until the garlic smells good.
- Add the tomato paste (and chili paste, if you’re using it) and mix it well with the onions and garlic.
- Add the soaked beans, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon peel, and onion powder to the pot. Pour the water in and heat until it boils. Cover and keep boiling at a steady boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- At 45 minutes, check on the beans and add a pinch of good sea salt. Keep cooking for another 15 to 30 minutes until the beans are as soft as you want them. (Watch them closely near the end to ensure they don’t cook down too much and don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.)
- Take it off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the parsley. Serve with some onion-chive pesto, red onions that have been pickled, and fresh crusty bread.
Substitutes for Borlotti Beans
If you can’t find these beans at your local market, you can always order them from Amazon. You can also use cannellini beans or Northern beans. Pinto beans will also work, but I find them to be more starchy and less creamy. These beans will make a great pot of chili or bean stew.
There are just enough fennel seeds to hit your taste buds, but not so many that they take over the overall flavor. This recipe has a lot of depth of flavor because it starts with almost caramelized leeks (or a large onion), salty capers, and a lot of sweet double-concentrated tomato paste. I used fresh rosemary and bay leaves for the herbs. I love this flavor combination.
What does it Taste Like?
Rich and creamy, plump borlotti beans are like the cannellini bean, also in the kidney bean family. The legume has a hint of sweetness that comes from nuts. It is also smooth, which makes it a good bean to eat cold, hot, at room temperature, or in a salad.
Borlotti Bean Recipes
The borlotti bean is a legume that can be used in place of almost any other bean in the same family. That means you should use borlotti instead of white beans or use this brighter alternative if the recipe calls for dark kidney beans. You can use them in soups, salads, stews, and side dishes.
- Borlotti Bean, Tomato, and Spinach Soup
- Cranberry Bean, Sausage, and Kale Stew
- Vegetarian Three Bean and Grape Salad
Where to Buy Borlotti Beans?
There are many names for the borlotti bean. The most common alternative name is “cranberry bean.” Still, shoppers may also find it called “rococo bean,” “French horticultural bean,” “Roman bean,” “Andhra bean,” “shelling beans,” “romano bean,” or “slugging bean.” You can find this product in stores under any of these names, both fresh and dried.
You can find dried borlotti beans in bulk or bags in the beans and grains section of specialty stores and online. However, they are not as common as other options. Also, the borlotti bean isn’t sold in a can like other beans. Sometimes you can buy these beans fresh at markets by the pound. They are often still in the pods they grow in, which are the same color.
How to Store Borlotti Beans?
As a dried bean, the borlotti can last for years in a dark, cool place with no moisture as long as it is kept in an airtight container. Many bags of beans will have a date on them when they go bad, but the food will usually still be good for a long time after that. Remember that dried beans that are older may take longer to cook than dried beans that are just bought.
Once these beans are cooked, you can put them in a sealed container and store them in the fridge for about a week. You can also put them in a container with a lid and freeze them for up to three months. Beans that have been frozen should be thawed in the refrigerator and work best in hot dishes like soups and stews. It would help if you ate fresh beans within a couple of weeks, or you could dry them to keep them longer.
Boil the beans until they are soft, then toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and black pepper. Or put them in a tomato-garlic stew with sautéed vegetables. Make sure to dry these beans first if you want to slow-cook them, and please don’t eat them raw. Make sure to wash your fruit and vegetables before you eat them. Borlotti beans, also called cranberry beans, are a type of wild bean that is high in protein and has a good flavor. Most of the time, they look like kidney beans but with brown spots and a beige-pink color.
Borlotti beans come from Italy and are very popular among people who want to eat healthier foods. They are also called shelling bean, roman bean, and French horticultural bean, among many other names. Borlotti beans are very popular in Italy and France, where they are used to make soup, salads, and other dishes that are high in protein. Depending on what you like, you can buy Borlotti beans fresh or dried to make your everyday meals more interesting.