Beautiful Beans

SPECIAL NOTE: I am putting this in as a scheduled post for Monday, August 29th. If it goes out with this note attached, it means that Irene knocked out my internet. I’ll be back as soon as I can…

Didja’ ever grow a vegetable just because it was pretty?

Ok, maybe not just for its looks, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

I got my first taste of beautiful Borlotti beans at a local* restaurant last summer, and fell head-over-heels in love with their creamy goodness. The following Saturday, one of the vendors at the Farmers’ Market had a huge pile on the counter, and I bought a bag full.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in a fridge packed to the brim with summer produce, I didn’t get back to them before they went bad…


At the next market, I looked for more…no dice.


You can probably guess what comes next…

I made room in the garden for them this year…

The seeds weren’t easy to find. If memory serves, I wound-up ordering them from…well, somewhere. (That information is currently buried under a stack of magazines on my desk, and not scheduled to be excavated before November…Sorry.) They were, however, easy to grow. 25 seeds went into the ground, and 23 sturdy little bean bushes came up.

I think a blue jay ate two of them right after I planted…

I’d never grown a shelling bean before this season, so knowing when to harvest them took a little guesswork. The pods should be fat and full, have good, bright color, and start to feel a little ‘loose’ when you press near the stem. You can store them in the pod in the fridge for a week before shelling and cooking.

Recipes for fresh Borlottis were hard to come by – most called for dry. In the end, I just did a riff on the purple-hull pea recipe from Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide.  (Thanks, Greg!) The cooking time was about the same. I used a combination of water and chicken stock (about 50/50) to cover the beans by about an inch, then threw in a handful of fresh sage, a rosemary sprig, and some salt and pepper (No bacon in this one – I wanted the beans to shine on their own). Bring to boil, then lower the heat to a bare-simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour.

Mmmm, de-lish!

*My neighbors look at me kinda’ funny when I say Providence is local…most of them think crossing the bridge means packing an overnight bag…You should see their faces when I tell them we went all the way to Boston, just for dinner! Obviously, we are Not Normal…


12 thoughts on “Beautiful Beans

  1. Your post came through nicely. I love the sound of the beans, have never heard of them!!! Do you have power back or are you still running on the generator?

  2. I, too, haven’t heard of Borlottis but your soup sounds wonderful! I hope you won’t have to live with Irene’s after-effects much longer but it was pretty crafty of you to have this post pre-written. 🙂

  3. It is also very good, cold with vinaigrette : in my dictionary = French dressing .So funny !…..
    With tomato sauce too, but hot
    And with mutton, of course

    • It IS funny, since most Americans know what a viniagrette is, and French dressing is something completely different!
      I had thought of dressing the leftover beans like you suggest, but the tomato sauce sounds good, too!

    • They should grow down in your neck of the woods – you might even get two plantings… I wish the beans kept that lovely color when you cooked them, instead of just turning white…There’s a reason I didn’t take a ‘finished product’ shot…

  4. Lovely post, and seeing your photos is making me hungry for my borlottis, but I’ve got another month or so to wait till they ripen! I love them with some olive oil and fresh herbs or with pasta and a tomato sauce. Enjoy!

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