Borlotti beans stew that's thick and saucy. With clean, minimal flavor of tomato, olive oil, and fresh herbs like spearmint and parsley. This vegetarian stew has nothing less in terms of flavor than a hearty meat stew.
Dishes like this stewed beans recipe are the beauty of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Simple, healthy, and very nutritious meals that are full of flavor even when cooked with few basic ingredients.
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What Are Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, have a creamy beige color with darker brown-red speckles on them. They're a popular bean variety in Mediterranean countries like Portugal, Italy, and Greece, or even in Eastern countries like Turkey.
In Greece, we call them Fasolia (beans) Hantres. Or Barbounofasoula (kudos to you if you can pronounce that one).
They're something between a kidney bean and a cannellini bean. Cranberry beans taste similar to kidney beans, they're meaty and sweet, and have a creamy starchy texture just like cannellini beans.
Borlotti beans are great for soups, stews, and casserole dishes. Not so much for a salad as this way you don't get to enjoy their creamy thickening capabilities. Unless you use fresh borlotti beans instead of dried. In that case, they're also great for a salad as well!
How To Cook Cranberry Beans / Borlotti Beans
SOAK OVERNIGHT: Cooking borlotti beans dried, you need to soak them in cold water overnight first. This makes them more digestible, reduces their cooking time, and helps them soften and release their starch.
BOIL AND DISCARD WATER: Also, like with most legumes cooking cranberry beans dried, means you need to bring them to a boil for a minute, drain, and discard the water. This is done also to aid digestibility (unpleasant gassy situations).
NOTE: Don't rinse legumes with cold water or add cold water to them while they're hot. The sudden shift in temperature will make their skins come off.
SIMMER AT LOW HEAT: After you soak, boil, and drain the beans, add them to a cooking pot with vegetable stock or water and simmer over low heat, covered. Cooking dried beans and legumes at a low temperature, covered, makes them cook more quickly and evenly.
PREPARE THE SAUCE: Once the beans are tender, (it takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour) you start preparing the sauce. By sauteing onion and garlic in hot olive oil, and then adding fresh chopped tomato and tomato passata.
Add the beans and their cooking liquid, if there's too little liquid left, add some boiling water. Allow the sauce to thicken to your liking, you can even leave it soupy if you prefer it that way. And finally season with the fresh herbs.
FINISH OFF IN THE OVEN (OPTIONAL): You can even use a saute pan that you can pop in the oven right at the end. And finish off the dish in the oven like Greek giant beans. You can even top the beans with crumbled feta cheese and bake for a few minutes.
You can keep this borlotti bean tomato stew in an airtight food container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Serve this vegetarian borlotti bean stew with a piece of feta cheese on the side, some green or Kalamata olives, or even salted anchovies.
For a more filling vegetarian bean stew serve on top of steamed Basmati rice.
As for toppings, you can add some pan-fried Greek (or Italian) sausage. A sprinkle of cayenne pepper (goes great).
Borlotti Beans Stew
- 300 grams (10.6 ounces) dry Borlotti beans
- 4 cups hot vegetable stock you can use water instead
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + extra to serve with
- 100 grams (1 small) onion finely chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
- 120 grams (1 medium-sized) tomato finely chopped
- 155 grams (¾ cup) tomato sauce (Passata)
- ⅔ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon fresh spearmint minced
- Soak the beans in a pot with plenty of water, at room temperature, overnight.
- Bring to a boil for 1 minute then drain beans in a strainer.
- Transfer the beans back to the pot and pour in the hot water or vegetable stock whichever one you prefer.
- Bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and drop the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with its lid.
- Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until beans are tender.
- Heat olive oil in a saute pan.
- Add the onions and garlic and saute over moderate heat until softened.
- Add the tomato and cook stirring with a wooden spoon until it drains.
- Pour in the tomato passata. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add the sweet paprika.
- Transfer the beans and their liquid into the saute pan.
- Cook over moderate heat partly covered until the sauce thickens. If there's too much liquid raise the heat a bit higher. If there's too little liquid add a splash of hot water.
- Stir in the spearmint and parsley and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Serve warm with a drizzle or extra virgin olive oil and hot red pepper on top if you like!