Late summer to early fall, fresh legummes begin to show up in our local markets here in Italy. I buy them by the bag full when I can and use them in soup, salads, or simply stew them as I do in this recipe. Fresh beans prepared in this manner are delicious as a side dish for grilled or roasted meat, and I even enjoy a small bowl of them served with slice of crusty Italian bread. Pancetta adds a meaty flavor to the beans, but if you want to keep this dish vegetarian, just skip the addition of the pancetta.
Borlotti beans are quite similar to cannellini beans except they are streaked with red when fresh (see photo below). In North America, cranberry beans are often used interchangeably with borlotti beans. After they are cooked, they turn light brown and have a slightly nutty flavor. I decided to slowly cook my beans with some tomatoes and other flavorings until they were tender, allow them to cool, then drizzle with some really flavorful extra virgin olive oil I have been saving for something special. I always have a mild flavored extra virgin olive oil that I use for cooking on hand, as well as a sharper, first pressed extra virgin oil I use as a condiment to add a splash of flavor to foods before serving. Delicious! Be careful not to add salt until the beans are fully cooked as the addition of salt too early will toughen the skin.
Deborah Mele Revised 2019
- 1 1/2 to 2 Pounds Fresh Borlotti Beans
- 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Pancetta
- 1 Stalk Celery, Finely Diced
- 1 Small Onion, Finely Dices
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley or Basil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Remove the beans from the pods and place in a bowl.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and add the pancetta, celery and onion.
- Cook until soft, then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
- Add the shelled beans and stir to coat in the oil mixture.
- Next add the can of tomatoes, chopped parsley, plus one can full of water.
- Bring to a bowl and then decrease the heat to medium low.
- Cook until the beans are softened but not yet mushy, about 1 hour, adding additional water if the mixture becomes too dry.
- Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the remaining chopped parsley.
- Before serving drizzle with some additional extra virgin olive oil.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 347Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 864mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 10gSugar: 19gProtein: 11g