Italian Crispy Beans: Soft on the Inside, Crispy on the Outside

Italian Open-Air Markets | FoodieGoesHealthy.comWhen I travel, I enjoy visiting open air markets and love to check out the produce and spices. What’s available in the market reflects the food culture and traditions of the country. I also like to get a feeling for the people as they go about their daily shopping.

Rialto Market |
When I was in Italy in the summer time, I became intrigued by these fresh borlotti beans. They were so colorful, and I’d never seen fresh beans in their pod before. When I took a cooking class in Italy, the teacher Alessandra was so kind and incorporated the fresh beans into the menu for me.

Fresh Borlotti Beans |
First my kids shelled the borlotti beans. Then, Alessandra showed us how to make this delicious crispy bean recipe. They are so good- soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The recipe won over my kids. Even my kid who doesn’t eat beans enjoyed this dish.

Cranberry Beans |

Cranberry Beans at the farmers market in Los Angeles.

Back in Los Angeles, I was happy to find similar beans at J.R. Organics at the farmers market.

Italian Crispy Beans |
I have made these beans several times at home as a winter side dish. The recipe comes out equally well with fresh beans or with dried beans. Every time I taste this crispy bean dish, I am reminded of my trip to Italy along with all the amazing food we ate and the lovely people we met.

Italian Crispy Beans: Soft on the Inside, Crispy on the Outside
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup dried Italian borlotti or cranberry beans (or 1 pound of fresh beans in their pods, then shelled)
  • About 4 cups of water
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • A scant 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mixed herbs, which is about 1 handful of freshly picked herbs (Like rosemary, sage, mint, and thyme)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Sort and rinse beans. Place beans and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the flame lower, cover with the lid ajar, and simmer stirring occasionally. About half way through cooking, stir in ½ teaspoon salt (about 30-40 minutes into the cooking for dried beans or about 20-25 minutes for fresh). If necessary, add more water as you cook so that the beans remain covered by water. Simmer beans until soft and creamy, about 1-1/4 hours for dried beans (or about 45 minutes for fresh beans). The time varies depending on the specific batch of beans. Check several different beans for doneness before turning off the stove; sometimes not all the beans are ready at once. Drain. Discard bean water or save for another use if desired. The beans turn light brown in color once cooked.
  2. Select a large, ovenproof saute pan. Sauté chopped herbs and minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. When the beans are soft, add them to the pan, and toss them with the herb mixture, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Spread out the beans in a flat, even layer. At this point, you can refrigerate the beans and finish the dish later. Or complete the dish now and serve.
  4. Place the beans in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then stir, add a tiny bit more oil if needed, and put back in the oven for 5 minutes more or until the beans are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Place the beans under the broiler for 2 minutes if needed for extra crispness. Serve warm.


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