Recipe from Italy: Insalata di Fagioli Borlotti
The Beautiful Borlotti: Speckled Cranberry Beans/ Borlotti, Speckled, Cranberry, Saluggia or even French Horticultural - the name matters not, it's the tell-tale color & creamy savory flavor.
The cranberry speckled barlotti bean is my favorite legume. Its' gorgeous color is almost whimsical as you break open the pods to retrieve the plump beans inside, while the soft nutty consistency rounds out soups & salads perfectly any time of the year. Beans are low in fat and loaded with nutrients, so pick up a few handful of fresh beans at the next farmer's market (or better yet plant a row next spring!) Apparently even Oprah is a fan, our Cranberry Bean, Cherry Tomato & Cucumber Salad was featured on Oprah.com!!
Beans are a farmer's best friend. They are wonderfully resourceful in the garden, repairing the soil by replacing nitrogen that plants like tomatoes & peppers take out. Borlotti beans grow big & beautiful in our garden and preserve wonderfully dried or frozen (uncooked). We plant the borlotti the same time as the other beans in the spring: green beans, solfino, etc. They are very easy to grow.
Fresh beans should be boiled in plenty of water with a few vegetable scraps (celery tops, carrot peels, ends of onions, etc.) thrown in until tender. Dried beans should be soaked overnight in fresh cold water and then cooked the same way as above. When cooked the beans loose their pretty purple speckles. The nutty-almost-meaty flavor of these beans perfectly compliments hardier herbs like sage and oregano.
Cranberry Bean, Cherry Tomato & Cucumber Salad + Wedge of Pecorino Cheese = Picnic Perfect
Simply Beans & Olive Oil on Toast
In the fall try adding a few handfuls to a hearty bean & bread soup like Ribollita
Barlotti with Braised Onions, Tomatoes & Broccoli Rabe' (Cime di Rapa)
A heavy winter dish like Borlotti & Sausages is just what you crave as the temperatures drop below freezing.
Recipe: Cranberry Bean Salad - Insalata di Fagioli Borlotti
2 cups fresh borlotti or cranberry beans
couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 cucumber, peeled & sliced
fresh herbs of your choice, chopped: marjoram, oregano or basil work well
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive
In a pot with plenty of water, bring the beans to a boil with vegetable scraps: the bits from the fridge such as celery tops, the bendable carrot destined for the garbage, half an onion sitting in your fridge that doesn't look so great - toss it in! (The veggies give the beans a bit more flavor.)
Bring to boil then lower to simmer 20-30 minutes until the beans are tender.
Drain & discard the vegetables.
In a bowl combine the beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber. Add in the herbs.
Combine the oil & vinegar then toss with the salad.
Season with salt & pepper.
Let stand 10-15 minutes to let the flavors come together. Recheck your seasonings (taste it) and adjust. Serve.
Ashley Bartner is the Living in Italy Editor for Wandering Educators. You can find her recipes and photos at:
All photos courtesy and copyright La Tavola Marche