Saturday, April 21, 2012

Borlotti Bean Ragu

Graziana from the appropriately named Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs) is hosting both the english and italian editions of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'll be featuring fresh Borlotti beans.
borlotti beansĀ© by Haalo

These are also known as Cranberry beans in the US and in the past I've used the more usual variety of borlotti bean -

80DSC_2746.jpg 80DSC_2754.jpg

an utterly striking red speckled exterior and beans which had reversed colouring.

This time I've used a different type, grown in the Yarra Valley, that have a predominately white pod that house those streaked red beans that are shown in the first photo.

Unfortunately with either type the same problem exists - when cooked they lose their attractive markings but what does remain is their fabulous taste.

With the cooling weather I've sought to make some comfort food - a simple borlotti bean ragu. At its heart is a soffritto - onion, celery, carrot - to which I've added red capsicum and grated zucchini. Red capsicum when slowly cooked adds a lovely sweetness to the dish and grated zucchini thickens the sauce and makes it almost creamy.

borlotti bean raguĀ© by Haalo

Borlotti Bean Ragu

300 grams podded, fresh borlotti beans
100 grams podded, fresh green peas
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely chopped
1 zucchini, shredded
1 can roma tomatoes or 500 grams chopped fresh tomatoes
celery leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt and pepper

Add a little oil and a knob of butter into a saucepan and place over a gentle heat - when the butter has melted add in the onion, celery, carrot and capsicum. Stir well and let it ever so slowly soften - it's important not to rush this, you're not looking to colour the vegetables what you want is for their juices to start to leech out - give it at least 15 to 30 minutes.

Add the grated zucchini, followed by the beans and peas - stir briefly and then add in the tomatoes - if using canned, crush them slightly and then add in enough water to just cover the beans. Let this simmer away until the beans have cooked through - depending on how fresh they are this could take 1 to 2 or more hours. If you find the mixture is too dry, just add a little more water.

When the beans have cooked, I then season it with sea salt and white pepper and add in the chopped celery leaves.

You can make this the day before and it will only improve. Serve it as a side dish, or on some good thick toast for a nourishing breakfast on those extra cold mornings.


  1. Yum - but you're right, cooked from dry or fresh, the cranberry bean totally loses those striking markings, retaining only a hint of pink.

    They were part of an heirloom seed packet I bought once on a whim, and they're fun/easy to grow, too.

    1. I've got some broad beans growing at the moment and I can't wait to start picking!

  2. Lovely. I'm a big fan of borlotti beans but I don't use them nearly as much as I should, here in Australia.

    1. Thanks Leaf - it's odd but I'm kinda the same, I love them but I just don't use them enough

  3. I love borlotti beans, they're very common in Italy but I never tried this ragout recipe, it looks really interesting.

    1. Thanks Graziana - over the last few years fresh borlotti beans have become way more readily available, before that you had to grow them yourself.

  4. Ciao Haalo. I can get fresh borlotti for only a brief period, so I buy a whole bunch and freeze some of them, shelled. It is indeed unfortunate that the color does not survive the cooking. The ragu sounds delicious.


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