Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stewed Borlotti Beans with Smoked Paprika

I cannot buy dried borlotti beans in New Zealand, they are all imported and heat treated, or fumigated, or not sure what they actually do with them at MAF, the fact is that they are impossible to cook!

‘Untreated’ beans are easy to cook, and they make a fantastic stock.

Soak the borlotti in water for 10 hours, changing often the water and washing them at the same time. Then cook them with plenty of water, removing any scam that forms at the top with a slotted spoon.

They should cook in one hour, taste to see. I add salt when they are nearly ready, and when I stopped removing excess scum from the top. Your beans are ready for any recipe now! Keep the stock, it can be used for soups, or as stock when a recipe requires it.

Stewed Borlotti Beans with Smoked Paprika

Here I chopped a small white onion, a small carrot and a celery stalk with leaves. I sautéd the vegetables with some extra virgin olive oil, and then I added the beans, and some of their sock, which is already salty.

I cooked the beans, adding stock little by little, until they started to mush lightly. I added some smoked paprika, stirred, and served with some crusty bread on the side.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini©


  1. I remember when they started heat treating beans - I was working at Zarbo and it was a total nightmare since we did so many bean salads - why do MAF even DO that? I am all for ecological integrity but please, not the beans!

  2. Alessandra.

    I have never come across beans being heat treated. Why on earth would they do that?!

    After the chickpea, my next favourite pulse is perhaps the borlotti or is it Pinto beans;D
    Anyway, I really like the sound of this, esp with paprika.

  3. Hi Alessandra,

    I remember too when they started heat treating beans. The problem has been fixed now for imported beans, at least those being sold organic. Some arrangement got made with MAF. Try asking at an organic retailer, or a wholesaler like Chantal or Ceres.

    People are starting to grow beans in NZ small-scale. Hopefully some of the bigger growers will catch on. I've heard that freshly dried beans are another food entirely!


  4. Wow so lovely to find some people as passionate as I am about beans!!!

    Mango they do that to avoid insect, mould, fungi, anything alive entering NZ and damaging our delicate eco-system...but sometime it seems too has to be edible, otherwise don't import it, grow it locally, I say!

    Wildcraft, thank you for the advice. You can buy borlotti seeds (and other Italian beans) in many places now, kings seeds for example. I grow mine, to eat them fresh is fantastic, they taste quite different. Also you can freeze them or dry them, and you can plant them again.

  5. I'm definitely inspired now to try growing some. Got any tips?

  6. I plant them directly in the ground, three around a tall supporting pole (they will grow around it 'embracing') or use one of those cones. Most borlotti plants will grow very tall, even 2 m, unless you get the borlotti nani (dawrf). My seeds from king seed produced very tall plant. In Italy (Veneto) they often grow near corn and pumpking.

    I only use organic compost, they like good soil, but I don't think that they are particularly fussy...put the seed in water for a couple of hours before planting, make sure the snails don't eat the seedling as soon as they come up, and plant when the weather turns warm. I think this year I planted them at the end of November and in December, but to be honest I don't remember exactly...
    I think that the best moon is ascending.

    In saying all this...I am not an expert gardener, I am still learning, so if anyone have more tips, please pass them on!!!



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