Fresh Borlotti Bean Salad with Tropea Onions & Aromatic Herbs
Insalata di Borlotti Freschi, Cipolle di Tropea e Erbe Aromatiche (recipe credit: my brother in law Federico) ~ Summer would not be summer without those long days spent sitting outside in the balcony, shelling borlotti beans with family. It’s one of those rituals that takes me back to a time where life was easier and time seemed to pass by slowly.
Borlotti are a tan or hazelnut-coloured bean streaked with red, magenta and purple. You find them in abundance sold by street vendors in Italy during this time of the year. In the past, when the freezer was not yet available in most countryside houses, they were dried in the sun, so that they could be kept for the rest of the year.
If cooked correctly, borlotti are delicious served in a simple way: the best way to fully enjoy their sweetness is to boil them slowly over low heat, and season them with just a few ingredients to enhance their flavour without covering it.
To cook them, add enough water to just cover them and some salt. Boil them over low heat until tender but still al dente. Once cooked, drain and let them cool.
Separately, heat abundant extra virgin olive oil and add your aromatic herbs. We used fresh rosemary, sage, small-leaf basil and parsley. You could also use other herbs…I imagine mint, tarragon, dill leaves, coriander or fresh oregano would all go well with this.
Add also 2 cloves of garlic “in camicia” (unpeeled garlic that has been slightly smashed to release flavour).
Allow the oil to heat up very slowly, and absorb the flavour from all the herbs. When hot (but not smoking or burning), turn off the flame and pour it over the beans you’ve previously kept in a serving bowl.
Mix the beans well to coat them in oil. Season with salt, pepper and finely sliced Tropea onion (you can replace this with regular red onions). You can discard the garlic cloves if you like.
Stir well then garnish with more fresh herbs before serving, lukewarm or cold.
Word of the Day
(A kind of bean typical of Italy, pronounced bor·lòt·ti)