Borlotti beans, sometimes called Cranberry beans, are a type of colourful and pretty legume. They are easily recognisable thanks to their light pink and beige colour and bright pink speckles and spots all over them.
Originated in Columbia, the borlotti beans are very popular in the Mediterranean countries. They are effortless to cook and use. They are ideal for salads and perfect for cooked meals too. They are an important source of fibre so if you want a healthier diet, integrate more of these borlotti beans into your meals.
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What Are Borlotti Beans?
Barlotti beans is a variety of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) which originates from Columbia. It's also known as the cranberry bean, Roman bean, romano bean, saluggia bean, gadhra bean or rosecoco bean.
Borlotti beans are light pink and beige with crimson or dark pink splashes and streaks. Most of the borlotti bean are bred in Italy and have a thicker skin. They are primarily used in Mediterranean cuisine.
They look somewhat similar to pinto beans, but they are not the same. Borlotti beans are larger and the specks are bigger. Cooked beans lose a lot of their specks and their colour becomes even and darker. When you see them cooked it's easy to think they are similar to kidney beans, but they are not the same.
You'll very likely come across borlotti beans in Italy as they are a staple in the country's cuisine. You'll see them in salads and stews with olive oil and tomatoes. They are popular in Portugal too where they are turned into delicious stews with paprika, meats, tomatoes, and garlic. A delicious meal you have to try!
Beans are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Borlotti beans are usually sold dried and shelled. However, you can also find them unshelled at some farmer's markets. They look especially pretty as they shells are pinkish with those darker pink specks on them.
How to Cook Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans come dried and shelled or as canned beans ready to be eaten or cooked with. As with most legumes, if you're cooking dried borlotti beans, then soak them overnight. This will soften them enough to make them easier to cook.
Never soak for longer than 12 hours, or the beans will lose their texture and flavour.
If you decide to boil them, put the beans in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
If you are using fresh borlotti beans, boil them for 35-45 minutes only. You don't need to soak fresh beans.
You can also pressure-cook the beans. Some recipes state that a 40 minute at high pressure without soaking will be enough. The cooking time will depend on your pressure cooker.
When cooked, borlotti beans have a delicious creamy texture. They work like a charm in a salad or mixed with vegetables to create a soup or stew.
What Does It Taste Like?
Borlotti beans are creamy and rich, and they are a mixture of kidney beans with cannellini beans. Much like any other bean, they will be nutty and earthy with a little sweetness to them.
When cooked well, borlotti beans are creamy and buttery.
How to Cook With Borlotti Beans
There are so many recipes which can incorporate beans. For something quick and easy, use canned borlotti beans. Mix them in a salad with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
They are perfect in soups and stews too. Cook them in tomato paste for that rich creaminess you get in Mediterranean cuisine. Always cook them on medium low heat.
My favourite borlotti beans recipe is inspired by Greek cuisine. Mix the beans with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Add fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, salt and pepper and fresh herbs of your choice. Then add some feta crumble to the mix and enjoy!
Where to Buy Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans are popular in Europe and can be found in most supermarkets. Just remember that you might find them under a different name, as mentioned above.
You'll find dried beans on the supermarket shelves or even to order online. If you wish to find them raw, ideally you'd get them from a farmers market. In some places in the world, you might not find them canned. However, in the UK, you can easily find them online.
How to store Borlotti Beans
If you purchase them dried, you can store them for a very long time, years, in an airtight container. Just keep them in a dark, cool place. Make sure to check on them occasionally to ensure no moisture penetrated the bags.
If you purchase them fresh, then make sure to eat them as quickly as possible. Ideally within a week or two.
Once cooked, like most beans, borlotti beans can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to a week. But the faster you eat them, the better.