Borlotti Beans with Tomato, Thyme and Parmesan

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Borlotti Beans are meaty enough to fool a carnivore. Also called cranberry beans because of their rich red colour, you can buy them dried or in tins, ready-cooked. This is an authentic Italian way of cooking the beans, with a rich vibrant herby tomato sauce. Because we use tinned cooked beans, dried oregano and dried mushrooms, it is an excellent recipe to make from your storecupboard but you can use fresh herbs, dried beans which you soak overnight and fresh mushrooms.


1 tablespoon olive oil plus another tablespoon for finishing the dish
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried oregano
400g cooked borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
400g Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
4 dried ceps or porcini, soaked until soft, drained and chopped finely
50g freshly grated Parmesan


1. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil with the garlic and dried oregano in a sauecpan. Cook until the garlic is soft and lightly coloured.

2. Add the borlotti beans and tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Add 1/2 teaspoon or a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the tomatoes (it will depend on how sweet the tomatoes are – check by tasting them.)

4. Add the vinegar and stir.

5. Add the dried mushrooms. Stir and leave to cook, with the lid on, for 20 minutes – check periodically so the sauce doesn’t stick: if the sauce is drying out, add a little water and stir it gently.

6. To serve, put the beans in a bowl, stir in the Parmesan and spoon over a little olive oil.

Recipe Variations
Fry some pancetta and sprinkle it on the top of the dish before serving.

Grana Padano or Pecorino would be good in this dish instead of Parmesan.





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