Whether they’re black, cannellini or borlotti, summer is a time when all of us can be full of beans.

As cupboard essentials go, borlotti beans are a particular favourite amongst us mangia fagioli (bean-eaters), with the tinned variety saving supper on many occasions. But while borlotti beans undoubtedly make the best beans on toast, they are also incomparable with those soaked and cooked at home.

Famously hard to grow anywhere that isn’t Italy, it’s no surprise that borlotti beans – along with the rest of the pulse family – are a staple in Italian cookery. The wholesome and filling nature of pulses makes them a healthy and substantial addition to a meal, whether you are cooking the famous classic Pasta e Fagioli or using them as a side dish.

This recipe is from Gabriella from La Scarpetta, who serves her borlotti beans cooked in the traditional way as an accompaniment to a rolled breast of lamb, marinaded with zesty lemon and fresh mint. Borlotti have such a delicate but distinct flavour that they hold their own just as well with steak as they do plaice – just make sure you pick up some good quality ones. “Here, the freshness of the flavours in the lamb contrast perfectly with the succulent meat and the hearty beans.

The beans I have used are dried borlotti beans and must be soaked for at least 12 hours before cooking. This dish doesn’t work with tinned beans, so get hold of the dried ones if you want to recreate this recipe. These dried borlotti beans are from Matera in Basilicata and are available from Bellavita’s new online Italian food shop.”

Recipe for Fagioli with Lemon and Mint Lamb

Serves 4

Ingredientsfalioli recipe italian

– 1 kg rolled lamb breast

– 1 lemon

– a handful of fresh mint

– 1 tsp dried chilli flakes

– 2 garlic cloves

– 500g dried borlotti beans

– 2.5 pints cold water

– 5 mini plum tomatoes

– 1 carrot

– 2 sticks of celery

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