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(Phaseolus spp.)


Beans belong to the legume family of and are plants from Central and South America. There are over 500 varieties of beans, the most well-known in Italy being the cannellini and borlotti beans, while black and red beans are mainly consumed in Central and South America, but also in Asia. In Europe the use of the beans started to spread around 1500, when it was imported by the Portuguese and Spanish navigators from Latin America. It was Christopher Columbus who discovered the existence of some varieties of beans on his second trip to Cuba. In 1600s, beans were consumed mainly by the rich and noble social classes, then, when serious famines and epidemics spread which caused a high mortality, it was the legumes and especially beans to ensure a consistent source of protein. This legume was easy to get and to grow, it was affordable and, in particular, is rich in protein, so, over the following centuries, beans have become a popular cooking ingredient. Today they are back to being used also for the most refined dishes.


MAIA offers 4 typesof Phaseolus beans:


Borlotti Beans: are characterized by an oblong shape and a mottled red and cream colour. They are a variety selected in Piedmont, where it is now considered a typical product. They are tasty, with quite a robust texture and are therefore suitable to be served in salads and great for the classic Italian dish, “pasta e fagioli” (or pasta and beans), as well as in soups.



Cannellini Beans: the outer shell is completely white and it has an elongated shape; it originally comes from Argentina, but has been growing in the region of Piedmont for ages. It has a very delicate flavour and is ideal for cold or warm salads and in soups.



Red Beans: the outer skin is red amaranth and remains crunchy, the interior tends to become mealy when cooked, so they go well with both cereals, as well as salads, and are widely used in traditional Mexican cooking (enchiladas,burritos).



Black Beans: they are smaller in size, almost round and the shell is black with a small white eye. It is a bean variety with a delicious spicy flavour. They adapt very well as a side dish for meat dishes, rice dishes, spicy sauces or main dishes prepared with traditional recipes, such as the famous Cuban "Moros y Cristianos".




All these beans have equivalent nutritional value, what most distinguishes them from one another is the colour, texture and flavour.


All of the beans are very nutritious and rich in vitamin A, B, C and E. They contain minerals and trace elements such as potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and phosphorus. Like other legumes, beans are rich in lecithin, a phospholipids that promotes the emulsification of fats, preventing their accumulation in the blood and thereby reducing cholesterol levels. Beans are also a food that is low in fat but rich in fiber and characterized by a high protein content. In fact, they represent a valid alternative to meat consumption. Thanks to their properties, they are able to provide a balanced diet balanced diet – in particular the relationship between carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.


However, as they are deficient in some essential amino acids and also the proteins found in beans are not complete as those present in meat or fish, we recommend the consumption along with cereals.


Beans are particularly suitable for diabetics because they are characterized by a low glycemic index, promoting a gradual absorption of carbohydrates by the body. The high fiber count makes beans a useful food to ensure that the colon and intestines are functioning. At the same time, however, these legumes are not recommended for people suffering from intestinal bloating. Discomfort that can be relieved by following a few very simple attentions during cooking. (see: “How to use Them”)


How to use them:


Basic recipe: after thoroughly washing the beans, they need to soak for at least 8 hours, followed by a cooking time of about 50-60 minutes. To limit the inconvenience of the formation of intestinal gas, the beans can be seasoned with the savory or a teaspoon of ground ginger. Alternatively, they can also be cooked with thyme, bay leaves and cumin plants that facilitate digestion. Japanese traditions recommend to boil the beans along with kombu.



Venetian pasta and beans

Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g tagliatelle (egg flat noodle) pasta, 1 onion, 300 g borlotti beans, 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 100 g lard, 1.75 lt meat broth.
Cooking Instructions: dice the carrot, celery and onion. Prepare a mixture with the lard. Cook the beans according to the basic recipe with the hot broth, the lard mixture and the chopped vegetables. When the beans are ready, blend half of them in a mixer. Put the blended beans back in the pot, add the pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes. When cooked, add the remaining beans and serve.


Risotto with beans and milk

Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 320 g carnaroli rice, 150 g borlotti beans, 2 onions, 2 bay leaves, 1.5 dl milk, 1 clove of garlic, 20 g butter, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the beans according to the basic recipe, also adding to the cooking water the bay leaves, 1 sliced ​​onion and the garlic. When finished, drain them and put them aside. In the meantime, peel and finely slice the remaining part of the onion and then sautee it in a pan with oil. Add the rice and toast it for 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in the hot milk, flavoured with a pinch of salt and pepper a little at a time, and cook the risotto. Halfway through cooking, add the beans and stir. Remove the pan from the flame and stir the risotto adding the butter. Let it rest for a few minutes and serve.


Roman bean salad


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, 1 glass of red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic 1 red onion, borlotti beans 350 g, 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil olive oil, 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the beans according to the basic recipe, then refrigerate them. Peel and thinly slice the ​​onion, then place it in a bowl with a glass of wine vinegar covering it with cold water, let it soak for about half an hour, then drain it. Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic and anchovies. Pour the oil into a bowl and add the chopped anchovies and garlic, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, salt and pepper and thyme: beat lightly with a fork to evenly mix all of the ingredients. Pour the beans into a bowl, add the onion, then add the anchovy-garlic dressing; mix everything together and serve, garnishing the plates with fresh ground pepper and thyme leaves (without which you can use oregano).


Red mullet fish with beans and asparagus


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 1 clove garlic, 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 bay leaf, 250 g borlotti beans, 8 scaled and filleted mullet, salt, olive oil, 100 g Asparagus.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe, also adding the garlic, the onion, tomatoes, the bay leaf to the water. Once cooked, remove the vegetables and put the beans in a saucepan with a little stock. Sautee the chopped asparagus in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt for two minutes, then add them to the beans. Meanwhile, heat a pan with two pinches of salt and pour in a little olive oil. Then sear the fish on the side (skin up). Arrange a bed of beans and asparagus on a plate and lay the grilled fish on top. Serve immediately after cooking.


Cannellini beans with sage


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 2 cloves of garlic, 350 g cannellini beans, olive oil, pepper, 200 g peeled tomatoes, salt, 1 sprig of sage.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe. Sautee the garlic in a pan with some oil, and the sprig of sage. Also add the tomatoes and cook everything until you get a fairly thick sauce. Then add the beans that you have previously boiled, and salt and pepper to taste, then simmer for at least 15 minutes. Once it is ready, serve hot.


Spelt with cannellini beans and smoked duck breast


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g pearl barley, 250 g Cannellini beans, 300 g smoked duck breast, 2 leeks, 2 juniper berries, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, 1 sprig of thyme, 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe, then drain them and set them aside. Rinse the pearl barley under cold running water, then boil it for 40 minutes, adding salt almost at the end of cooking. Clean the leeks by removing their root, the outer leaves and end green parts. Wash them, slice them and gently cook for 2-3 minutes in a sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix the remaining oil with the juniper berries, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper and let the dressing marinade for at least 15 minutes. Toast the flax seeds in a pan without any seasoning. Stir the spelt in a bowl with the cannellini beans, leeks, and oil dressing. Then transfer it onto the plates, adding the slices of duck breast. Sprinkle the plates with flax seeds, garnish them with the thyme leaves and serve.


Crown of rice and cannellini beans

Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g carnaroli rice, 200 g cannellini beans, 1 carrot, 3 bay leaves, 20 g parmesan cheese, 1 sage leaf, 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 onion, 60 g butter, 100ml white wine, 100 ml vegetable stock, ½ stalk of celery, 1 clove of garlic, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe, also adding the carrot, ​​½ of the onion sliced, celery pieces, sage, 1 bay leaf, garlic and chopped parsley water to cook. Add salt after it has finished cooking. Drain the beans and blend them with 1 bay leaf. Then pour them in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the rice as a normal risotto, with ½ chopped onion, 20 g of butter, white wine and hot stock, then stir in 30 g of butter and Parmesan cheese. Butter a ring mold, pour in the risotto. Turn over the ring mold onto a serving dish, place the hot, creamy beans in the centre and serve.


Cannellini beans in squid ink


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g cannellini beans, 500 g cuttlefish or squid, half a sweet red pepper, half a sweet green pepper, 1 onion, 1 big tomato, 1 glass of white wine, squid ink, 1 bay leaf, extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 egg.
Cooking Instructions: cook the beans according to the basic recipe, also adding the bay leaf and a clove of garlic to the water. Once the beans are cooked, add salt, drain them and set them aside. Chop the onion, peppers and tomatoes and sautee them in a pan. Add some wine to the sautee pan, then blend the vegetables and put them back on the flame. Add the squid ink and continue cooking. Clean the cuttlefish, and let them brown in a skillet with a little oil. Mix them into the previously prepared sauce. Let it cook slowly for about 30-40 minutes. If necessary, add a little water and some salt. Drain the beans, lay the cuttlefish and their sauce over the beans and serve.


Spicy black bean soup with cinnamon


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 2 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 lt chicken (or vegetable) broth, ground cinnamon, 1 onion, 350 g black beans, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil , 150 g smoked bacon, pepper, 1 fresh hot chilli pepper, 150 g vine tomatoes, salt.
Cooking Instructions: soak the beans in cold water, rinse and drain. Heat some oil in a pan, and sautee the hot pepper (whole or chopped), the chopped onion and garlic , the whole piece of bacon and the bay leaves; Sautee everything on low flame and then add the diced tomatoes, the cinnamon and finally the black beans. Add the chicken broth and cook for about 45 minutes over low heat, covering the pan with a lid, and leaving a small vent. When the beans finished cooking, season them with salt and pepper. Serve the soup accompanied with slices of toasted bread.


Shrimp and black beans appetizers


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 500 g shrimp, 150 g black beans, 1 whole orange and the juice from 3 oranges, juice from 1 lemon, 1.5 dl olive oil, 1 bunch of chopped chives, salt and white pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the beans according to the basic recipe, then drain them, and transfer them into a bowl. Dress them with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Wash the oranges, cut them into slices and divide them in two parts. Shell and de-vein the shrimp, and let them marinate in the orange juice (setting aside 3 tablespoons), for 30 minutes. Beat the remaining juice with salt, pepper, the remaining oil and a some of the chives. Drain the shrimp, toss with the orange dressing, and arrange them on a serving dish. Put the beans around them, garnish it with the remaining chives and orange slices, and serve.


Calamari with potatoes and black beans


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 250 g potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped parsley, 800 g calamari, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 1 cup of white wine, 300 g black beans.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe. Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes, and soak them in cold water. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Clean the squid well and cut them into small pieces. In a frying pan, heat a little oil and simmer the garlic, chopped tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt and add the squid, stir and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Pour in some white wine and let it evaporate. Combine the black beans, add salt and cook for 5 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile, drain the potatoes well and fry in olive oil. Serve the dishes with the fried potatoes on the bottom and place the beans and squid on top.


Black beans and truffle – stuffed artichokes


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g black beans, 12 small artichokes, 1 fresh truffles, 1 clove of garlic, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe, also adding garlic to the cooking water. Once cooked, add some salt, drain and set aside. Clean the artichokes and remove the hearts. Discard the central parts and cook them in boiling water with juice from half a lemon juice and a tablespoon of flour until they are tender, then drain. Warm up 2 tbl of extra virgin olive oil, add a garlic clove that must be discarded as soon as it turns slightly blond. When the oil is almost cool, add the grated truffle and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the artichokes with the beans, cover them with grated truffles. Serve


Moros y cristianos


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 2 large cups of black beans, 1 onion, garlic, 2 sweet peppers, olive oil, 2 cups of long aromatic rice, cumin, bay leaf, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe. Meanwhile, sautee the onion, garlic, and sweet peppers in a pan with olive oil. Drain the beans and set aside the cooking water. In a saucepan, add the rice, 3 cups of black water (water from cooking the beans), the garlic, cumin, bay leaf, a little vinegar and drained beans. Cook for 20 minutes, covered with a lid.




Ingredients (for 8 burritos): 1 onion, 250 g black beans, 100 g mushrooms, 150 g corn, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 1 red sweet pepper, 1 tomato, 1 zucchini, 8 tortillas.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe. Boil the corn, as well, separately. Chop the onion, zucchini, tomato, sweet pepper, mushrooms and sautee them in a pan. Cook the vegetables over low heat adding water or vegetable broth, and finally, add the cooked and drained beans and corn. Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Heat the tortillas in a pan, put a bit of the vegetable stew mix in the middle and roll the tortilla, forming a tube, then folding the other two sides, form a pocket. The burritos can be served with guacamole sauce,

bean cream, and sour cream.
Ingredients for the tortillas dough: 120 ml warm water, 250g soft flour, 10 g baking powder, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt
Cooking Instructions: in a bowl, place the flour, baking powder, oil and add little by little warm water in which you have melted a pinch of salt, mix the ingredients with your hands. Put the dough on a pastry board and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is an even ball, place it in a bowl and let rise for 15 minutes. Form 8 balls weighing 50 g each; with a rolling pin roll out each ball to form a thin round disk.


Rice with beans and bacon


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 320 g carnaroli rice, 150 g bacon, 1 cabbage, 100 g red beans, 60 g butter, 2 cloves of garlic, 20 g grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, white wine.
Cooking Instructions: boil the red beans according to the basic recipe and then drain. Peel and wash the cabbage and then blanch for a few minutes in salted boiling water. Drain, remove the central part and cut into strips. In the same water, boil the rice. Meanwhile, peel two cloves of garlic and sautee them in a pan with butter. Remove the garlic and then sautee the bacon, cut into strips, in the same pan. As soon as it becomes clear, add some white wine, the cabbage slices, and beans. Drain the rice, season it with the bacon, cabbage and bean sauce, grated parmesan, a pinch of pepper, and serve.


Toulouse beans


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 500 g red beans, 1 cabbage, 150 g sausage, 6 slices of lean bacon, 1 leek, 1 carrot, 1 onion, vegetable broth.
Cooking Instructions: soak the beans and then boil them in vegetable broth. When the stew is half-way cooked, add the sausage and bacon. Cook for about half an hour then take out the sausages. Cook the chopped cabbage in boiling water thoroughly, and when it is cooked, drain well, season with salt, and pepper, and mix it with the sausage. Place on a serving platter or metal tray. Bake it all in the oven at 180 ° C until the cabbage and other ingredients are golden brown. Prepare the dishes by placing the mixture of cabbage, sausage and bacon on the bottom, and dressing them with beans seasoned with salt and oil.


Gnocchetti and beans


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 2-3 slices of stale bread, 450 g white flour, 400 g red beans, 30 g butter, 2 onions, 400 g peeled tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, some basil leaves .
Cooking Instructions: soften the slices of bread in warm water, squeeze and crumble into a bowl, knead the bread with the flour until it becomes a smooth and even dough. Divide into even rolls, not bigger than the size of a thumb. Cut each roll into pieces about 2 inches long and give them the classic shape of gnocchetti. Meanwhile, boil the beans according to the basic recipe, adding an onion, peeled and cut into wedges, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the cooking water. Then prepare the sauce in a pot by frying a chopped onion with 30 g of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour in the boiled and drained beans. Let them cook for a few moments, and then add the tomato pulp, crushing it with a fork, salt, pepper and let it finish cooking. Boil the dumplings for 2-3 minutes salted water, drain well and pour into a bowl. Toss with bean sauce, stir well and serve garnished with basil leaves.


Cuban-style frijoles rojo


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 2 large cups of red beans, 1 onion, 1 garlic, 1 sweet red pepper, 1 green pepper, 4 red tomatoes, 2 potatoes, 100 g pumpkin, cumin, vinegar, red wine, sugar.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the basic recipe. Meanwhile, in a pan, sautee the chopped garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes with a little oil. Then add the potatoes and pumpkin – cut into cubes, cumin, a little vinegar, red wine and a teaspoon of sugar; Cook on high heat for 10 minutes. Drain the beans when they begin to soften, but keep the cooking water. Add the drained beans to the vegetables and finish cooking over low heat, uncovered, adding the beans’ cooking water little by little.




Ingredients (for 4 people): 150 g red beans, 250 g ripe tomatoes, 400 g lean beef, extra virgin olive oil, salt, 1 onion, your choice of hot chilli pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 clove of garlic.
Cooking Instructions: boil the beans according to the base recipe. Meanwhile, grind the meat and peel and chop the onion and garlic. Cut the pepper in half, remove seeds and internal filaments, and cut it into small pieces. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute, remove the skin and seeds and chop them. In a saucepan, sautee the onion and peppers with a little olive oil, then add the meat and brown it. Add two ladles of boiling water, the tomatoes, the chilli pepper, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook covered on medium heat for about 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for another half hour, adding a little hot water if too dry. When it has finished cooking add the cooked and drained beans and let them simmer together for a few minutes.