Fresh borlotti bean recipe 2

A big bowl of brothy beans is one of my favorite things to eat. This fresh borlotti bean recipe comes to me by way of my mother, who ate them during her last stay in Italy. The ingredients are simple, and it’s quite hard to mess up this dish. I find that the toppings really help the beans stand out, and you can add or not exclude whatever you like.

What are borlotti beans?

Shelled fresh borlotti beans

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are in season from late spring to early summer. The bean pods are a beautiful, speckled pink and white color, and the beans themselves have a really funky pink pattern on them.

They’re pretty easy to open and clean, and once they’ve been cooked, they lose their pink color and turn grey/brown (boo!).

A note on toppings

Fresh borlotti bean recipe 1

This bean recipe is very simple and requires few ingredients. But I do encourage you to include the toppings, especially the garlic breadcrumbs and some form of cheese. I’ve made these with both aged Parmesan and fresh ricotta, and they’re both wonderful options. Ricotta salata could also go beautifully if grated on top. Add fresh herbs (I use parsley but you can also add chives, coriander, or even some tarragon), and don’t skip on the olive oil at the end. I also add loads of chili flakes but that’s just because I add them to everything, so feel free to include them or not add any at all if they’re too spicy for you.

What to serve with my fresh borlotti bean recipe

Fresh borlotti bean recipe 4

I serve these beans on their own, with all the fancy toppings and a slice of fresh baguette or a hearty, country loaf.

When I’m cooking this for my kids, I make it into a kind of improvised pasta e fagioli: I add tiny pasta in with the beans when I add them to the saucepan with the tomatoes and water. The pasta then cooks in the bean starch and bean water and becomes really delicious. When I do that, I prefer to top it with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

At the end of the day, this recipe is just a big bowl of beans, but for me, this is the ultimate comfort food. I hope they bring you comfort and joy just like they do for me!

Fresh borlotti bean recipe, Italian-style

This Italian-style recipe uses fresh borlotti beans, sage, cherry tomatoes, and lots of garlic!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bean stew, beans, borlotti, Italian, stew
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 600kcal
Author: Gitanjali


For the beans

  • 800 g fresh borlotti beans shelled
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • chili flakes to taste
  • 10 cherry tomatoes cut in half

For the garlic breadcrumbs

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic minced

For the toppings

  • 4 tbsp fresh ricotta cheese
  • chili flakes to taste
  • high-quality olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped finely


For the beans

  • After peeling the borlotti beans, boil them in a large pot of water until the beans are very soft and tender. Cooking time will depend on the freshness of your beans, but can take anywhere between 20 and 50 minutes. Turn off the beans and set aside, but do not strain or throw the bean water away!
  • In a medium saucepan that's big enough to fit all the beans, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic, sage leaves, and chili flakes (I use about 1 tsp). Fry on medium heat until fragrant (but don't let the garlic burn).
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, cut side down. Cook until the tomatoes become jammy, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans into the saucepan with the tomatoes. Include enough bean water for the beans to be fully covered.
  • Cook on medium heat until the beans start to become very soft and creamy. The water should turn into a creamy, thick sauce as it cooks down. Feel free to mash some of the beans with the back of your spoon so that they can thicken the sauce. This can take anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on how thick or soupy you want your beans to be.

For the garlic breadcrumbs

  • In a pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until they start to become golden-brown. Towards the end, add the minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to release the flavors of the garlic. Turn off the heat and mix well.

To serve:

  • Spoon the beans into 4 big bowls. Top with 1 tbsp of ricotta cheese in each bowl. Sprinkle with garlic breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, fleur de sel, and chili flakes.


Calorie count is approximate

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