Cranberry Beans, Horticultural Beans

cranberry bean = borlotti bean = saluggia = shell bean = salugia bean = crab eye bean = rosecoco bean = Roman bean = fagiolo romano. An excellent, nutty flavor, and are commonly used in Italian soups and stews.

Beans are the most important single garden crop. Once fully mature, they provide protein. They are Legumes, which means they can use Nitrogen from the air to make protein. Other vegetables or grains can’t do that.  A young horticultural bean cannot be used as a snap bean because the pod fiber is too tough.  They are ready for harvest when the pods start changing from green to yellow. If they are allowed to completely dry out, they can be stored as dried beans and need to be soaked prior to making chilli, soups and stews. Many of the heirloom varieties are horticultural beans. The seeds can be quite decorative with swirls of colour.   They can be used fresh for making bean salads, stews and various other soups and chilli or dips.  In case of unavailability, pinto beans make an excellent cranberry bean substitute, since they are similar in size, taste and flavour. The Cranberry bean is considered to be a heart food since it has the ability to lower cholesterol, control the levels of blood glucose in diabetics and reduce the risk of cancer. This legume is also rich in antioxidants, which fight against the free radicals in the body. The beans are excellent sources of phytochemicals, molybdenum and folic acid.


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh cranberry or lima beans in pods
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
  • ground black pepper

Shell beans. In a large saucepan of boiling water cook beans with salt until tender and no longer mealy, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain beans and transfer to a bowl. While beans are still warm, toss with remaining ingredients and season with salt. Serve salad warm or at room temperature.


  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberry beans, (can of romano beans or soaked dried beans)
  • 2 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced finely
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Juice of half a lemon

Heat oil in a pot, add onions and fry until golden brown.  Add mustard seeds, and when they begin to splutter, add tomatoes.  Add garlic, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and cumin powder, and stir.  Cook for 10 minutes, then add beans.  Stir, cover and leave to cook on low heat for 30 minutes, until beans are cooked through.  Stir in lemon juice.  Garnish with cilantro or coriander and serve with rice, and a side salad.

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2 Responses to Cranberry Beans, Horticultural Beans

  1. This sounds great! Now we need more kale coming our way. I bet any of our greens could be substituted, even beet tops.


  2. Ashley says:

    I thought I would help add to the cranberry bean recipes! The two you posted sound great – can’t wait to try them! Here’s one more 🙂

    Cranberry Beans & Garlicky Kale
    -3 tbs. EVOO
    -1/3 cup chopped onions
    -3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    -1/8 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
    -1 1/2 cups cooked cranberry beans (reserve cooking water)
    -freshly ground pepper
    -1 bunch kale, stems removed & coarsely chopped
    -grated Pecorino Romano cheese

    1. In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. EVOO. Saute onion, 1/3 of the garlic & rosemary until soft, about 5 mins.
    2. Put sauteed vegetables & beans in food processor & blend until smooth. Add a few Tbs. of reserved cooking water if dry. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
    3. Warm the bean puree in a small skillet over low heat.
    4. In the same skillet used for onions & garlic, warm remaining EVOO over medium heat. Add remaining garlic & saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Don’t let garlic brown.
    5. Add kale to garlic & stir until it begins to wilt. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 8-10 mins.
    6. Serve beans in bowls or on plates, topped with kale. Garnish with cheese.


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