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As far as legumes go, Borlotti beans are some of the most colourful and pretty beans out there. This hearty ingredient has a light, beige-pink colour with spots of red-brown speckled all over.
Popular in Italy and Portugal, the Borlotti bean is versatile, easy to use, and simple to prepare. Even if the legumes lose their vibrant colour while cooking, they gain their signature creamy texture.
The Borlotti bean is a staple in Italian and Portuguese cuisine, found in dishes such as stewed beans with olive oil and tomato, pumpkin farro soup with Borlotti beans, and Feijao a Portuguesa, made with the beans, paprika, bacon, sausage, chile peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
Prepare and serve Borlotti beans much like any other bean. The creamy texture shines alone as a side dish or as the main bean in a casserole or salad. Or, mix it with meat and vegetables for a hearty stew and toss with other beans in a three bean salad. The ways to eat and serve this bean prove endless, and its sweet, nutty flavor works well with many herbs, spices, vegetables and proteins.
When cooking dried Borlotti beans it's best to soak overnight. Alternatively, you can utilise a pressure cooker for a faster prep time. One nice thing about the Borlotti bean is that it isn't easily overcooked; it holds its shape well in a soup or baked dish, even after reheating.
To soak beans the traditional way, cover them with water by 2 inches, add 2 tablespoons coarse salt (or 1 tablespoon fine salt) per pound of beans, and let them soak for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. Drain them and rinse before using.
After soaking the beans, drain the water, place the beans in a saucepan and cover with fresh cold water, adding flavourings such as onion, garlic and fresh herbs – no salt though at this stage as it toughens the skins. Cook the beans for between 45 minutes and couple of hours, depending on their size. Once they’re cooked, season well to taste.