Borlotti beans, also sometimes used in stead of the American Cranberry beans (or shell beans or shell-out in the US), are used in many excellent Italian and Portuguese dishes. This bean has a pink background with tan markings and is often paired in salads with bitter greens such as radicchio. Once cooked, the speckled markings disappear and they become soft and creamy in texture.
Use:This is a 'meaty' bean often used in the classic Pasta e Fagioli. Simmered till soft and served with bread and a salad, they make a meal all by themselves. Beans are a great vehicle for olive oil, so drizzle each serving with a tablespoon or two of your best extra virgin oil at the table.
Either soak the beans in plenty of water overnight, or bring them to a boil for a minute or so, remove from the heat, and let sit for an hour. Drain off the soaking water, add fresh water or stock to cover, and cook gently for about an hour until the beans are tender, but not mushy. If you can't find borlotti beans, you can use pinto beans or, at a push, red kidney beans.