facebook twitter rss


(Vigna spp.)


The beans that belong to the Vigna genus are actually closer relatives of peas than common beans (Phaseolus species). The Vigna species is presumably native to Asia, in ancient times spreading not only to the Far East, where the adzuki beans were distinguished, but to Africa and around the Mediterranean basin, where the black eye beans was born. While these crops in Asia are still an important agricultural resource, in the Mediterranean regions, they have almost been completely replaced by the common bean (Phaseolus spp), which have a higher productivity level.


MAIA offers three types of Vigna beans: black eyed peas, mung beans, and azuki beans.


Black eyed peas (Vigna unguiculata) are characteristic to the Mediterranean and southern regions. They have light colour skin with a small black eye. Black eyed peas have been grown in Italy, at least a thousand years before the common bean, so they can be considered a traditional product. They have a very delicate flavour that goes perfectly with fish, but they are also excellent in soups or simply boiled and dressed with a drizzle of olive oil.



Mung beans (Vigna radiata) are small and green, and widely used in Chinese and Indian cooking, where they are used in the form of sprouts – for their tonic and restorative powers, or boiled and added to salads. They are also a delicious accompaniment to rice, soups and risottos.



Azuki beans (Vigna angularis) are slightly larger than the green ones, and are mainly used in Northeastern Asia. These beans are among the most widely used legumes in Japan. In fact, the name azuki or adzuki is a literary translation of the Japanese name for "little bean". They are characterized by a sweetish taste (very reminiscent of chestnuts and sweet potatoes), and in fact, are often used in Chinese, Korean and Japanese cuisine to make sweets or desserts. In China and Japan, they are considered lucky, so during the holidays they are never missing from the table.






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 phospholipid 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 – in particular the ratio 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.


How to use them:

Basic recipe: After you have thoroughly cleaned and washed the beans, the azuki beans and the black eye beans take approximately 8 hours to soak and 40-50 minutes to cook, while mung beans cook in just 30 minutes, after 4 hours of soaking. To limit the inconvenience of the formation of intestinal gas, they can be seasoned with savoury, or a teaspoon of ground ginger. Alternatively, they can be cooked with thyme, bay leaves and cumin, which all help to facilitate digestion. Nippon traditions recommend to boil the beans along with kombu seaweed.


Black eye beans risotto

Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 320 g carnaroli rice, 1 onion, 1 carrot, ½ stick of celery, 200 g of black eye beans, ½ clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , 1 bunch chopped parsley
Cooking Instructions: peel the onion and the garlic and slice ​​½ of the onion. Peel and dice the carrot and the celery. Cook the beans according to the basic recipe, as well as adding the chopped vegetables. Drain the beans and set aside the cooking water. Chop the remaining part of the onion and sautee it in a pan with oil, subsequently adding the beans and let everything cook together. Add the rice, toast it and cook it, adding the water used to cook the beans, a ladle at a time. Remove from the flame, add the chopped parsley and serve.


Black eye beans sauteed with bacon, shrimp and mixed salad


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g black eye beans, 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic, 8 shrimp, 1 large slice of bacon, 200 g mixed salad, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the black eyed peas in water according to the basic recipe. Once cooked, drain and put them aside. Steam the prawns for 3 or 4 minutes, then fry the sliced bacon with oil, then add the beans. Season it with salt and pepper and cook some more. Serve the shrimp together with the black-eyed beans on a nest of salad, that has been dressed with balsamic vinegar and oil


Black eye beans and mushroom croquettes


Ingredients (for 8 croquettes): 200 g black eyed beans, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 350 g mushrooms, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 or 2 seeded and chopped chilli peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, salt and pepper, batter, 1 small beaten egg, corn flour, a little oil
Cooking Instructions: heat the oil in a large frying pan and lightly simmer the mushrooms, garlic, chilis and cumin for 5-6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle them with flour. Cook on low flame stirring for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the flame, add the beans (previously boiled following the basic recipe) and season well. The mixture should be soft, but not liquid. Store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Form the mixture into 8 croquettes. Dip them in the beaten egg and then coat them in corn flour. Fry them for a few minutes in hot oil, continually turning them. Serve hot.


Pappardelle soup and black eye beans


Ingredients (makes 4 servings) 200 g egg noodle pasta “pappardelle”, 250 g black eye beans, 1 onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves, 50 g bacon, 2 ripe tomatoes, vegetable broth, 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: finely chop the onion, celery and carrot. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Heat up some oil in a pan, add the chopped vegetables and bacon and, add the bay leaf. Let fry until the bacon fat has melted. Add the previously soaked beans, pour a ladle of broth and let it evaporate, then remove the bay leaf. Cover with 1 and a half liters of rich broth, add finely chopped tomatoes, without their skins, salt and pepper and cook over moderate flame, stirring occasionally. Fifteen minutes before removing from heat, add the coarsely chopped pasta, salt and pepper and finish cooking.


Risotto with mung beans, shrimp and red peppercorns


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 320 g carnaroli rice, 100 g mung beans, 16 fresh prawns (4 to garnish the serving dish), 1 liter vegetable stock, ½ white onion, white wine, extra virgin olive oil, red peppercorns, salt.
Cooking Instructions: soak the mung beans for 8 hours. Boil the vegetable stock and toss the shrimp inside to sear them. When the prawns change color pull them out, peel them, cut into pieces and put their heads in the broth to boil. Proceed now as with a normal risotto: chop the onion, blond it in oil, toast the rice, sprinkle with white wine and, when it has evaporated, gradually add the stock and then the beans. Before it finishes cooking, add the prawns and red peppercorns, mix well, adding a little more broth if needed. Serve hot, garnished with a shrimp that has been sauteed with oil and red peppercorns.


Polenta with mung beans stew


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g corn meal for polenta, 150 g mung beans, 1 celery, 1 carrot, ½ onion, 1 clove of garlic, 150 g peeled tomatoes, 100 g porcini mushrooms, 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds, 5-6 leaves of sage, pepper, curry, turmeric
Cooking Instructions: chop vegetables and sautee them, add the sage and chilli pepper, and the mushrooms (previously soaked in water, if they are dry). Add the mung beans previously soaked and the peeled tomatoes, add hot water so that it continues boiling, adding also turmeric and curry. Finally, season with salt. In the meantime, cook the polenta in the traditional way and at this point simply serve the polenta topping it with the mung bean stew.


Mung bean soup


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200g mung beans, 150g long aromatic rice, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, half an onion, a rib of celery, parsley, parmesan, vegetable broth, oil, salt.
Cooking Instructions: boil the mung beans according to the basic recipe. Finely chop the onions and celery and sautee them in the pan. Meanwhile, boil the milk, then pour into a bowl where you have beaten the eggs with a pinch of salt, the washed and chopped parsley, and 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. Whisk vigorously to mix well. Add the rice to the soup and bring to boil, Then, add a tablespoon of oil, remove from heat and pour into the soup tureen first, then add the egg mixture. Mix well and serve immediately, while piping hot.




The easiest way to get the sprouts, if you don’t have a designated sprouted, is to place the thoroughly washed and rinsed seeds in a dish with some water, so that they remain submerged, then cover with a damp towel and let them soak for six to twelve hours, depending on the size of the seeds. In the morning the seeds should be rinsed again and placed back on the bottom of the tray, wet as they are, but without adding more water, and again covered with a damp towel and an upside down plate, and left to germinate. The seeds should be rinsed well, twice a day. Repeat the procedure for 3-5 days, depending on the selected seeds, until the sprouts have reached a length of 3-4 cm, after which put them in light, so that they become enriched with precious chlorophyll (about 7-8 hours of indirect light, less time if it is direct sunlight to avoid them drying out). Germination times can vary with temperature. Since they are very productive and also to always have a fresh and vital supply of sprouts, try not to use too many seeds when you germinate them.


Azuki salad


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g azuki beans, 3 ribs of celery, 1 medium yellow bell pepper cut into thin slices, 200 g pecorino cheese, olive oil, some basil leaves, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the beans according to the basic recipe, drain them and let them cool. Dice the celery, bell pepper and pecorino cheese. Once the beans have cooled, mix all the ingredients together, seasoning with oil, salt, and pepper and basil leaves to taste.


Azuki bean and pumpkin quiche


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g of boiled azuki beans, 500 g of pumpkin or yellow squash, 2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 green pepper, 1 clove garlic, 3 tablespoons of garam masala (or 1 teaspoon curry powder, pepper and cinnamon ), 1 tablespoon of white flour, extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.
Cooking Instructions: boil the azuki beans according to the basic recipe, adding salt after they finish cooking, then drain and set aside. Grate 500 grams of yellow squash or pumpkin and 2 carrots. Finely slice 2 onions, and chop 1 green pepper and 1 clove of garlic. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a pan, put enough extra virgin olive oil to soften the onions, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of flour and add 1 ladle of vegetable broth to stretch it. Add to the cooked azuki, a sprinkling of crushed red chilli peppers and salt. Stir for a few minutes. Put the pumpkin in a pan with 3 tablespoons of garam masala and sautee it over high flame until it has changed color. Take a pan of 28-30 cm in diameter, grease it and sprinkle in breadcrumbs. Start to pour in azuki beans and squash in layers. Bake for 15/20 minutes until golden and grilled. Serve warm.


Azuki beans and spinach soup


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g azuki, 200 g spinach + a few leaves for decoration, 1 onion, 5 cm kombu seaweed, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons tamari, 2 pinches sea salt
Cooking Instructions: boil the azuki beans according to the basic recipe, also adding seaweed to the cooking water. Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into slices. Heat sesame oil in a saucepan, reduce flame and add the onion. Let it cook for 15-20 min., stirring and making sure it does not burn, then add a pinch of salt. Once the azuki beans are cooked, remove the seaweed and add the onion into the legumes. Wash the spinach and steam it without adding any water (they cook well with their own liquid), along with a pinch of salt. Drain and squeeze them and chop. Add them to the rest of the ingredients and add four cups of water and the tamari. Bring to a boil, simmer over low flame for 10 min. Serve garnished with a few raw spinach leaves.


Azuki patties


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 250 g of azuki beans, 4 sage leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon of chopped chives, salt, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari sauce , 100 g of chickpea flour (or wheat germ), a few leaves of curly lettuce
Cooking Instructions: boil the azuki beans according to the basic recipe, adding salt towards the end of their cooking time, then drain and set aside. The azuki beans must be very soft. Mince the garlic, sage and chives and mix them in with the beans. Allow them to cool and, with wet hands, form the patties, coating them in chickpea flour. Bake for around 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees. Serve with olive oil and tamari (or shoyu), and curly-leaf lettuce.


Beans and soya soup


Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 100 g soybean, 100 g mung bean, 100 g azuki beans, 1 bay leaf, carrot, onion and celery, 2 potatoes, salt, extra virgin olive oil
Cooking Instructions: soak all of the legumes for 24 hours. After they have finished soaking, drain and place in a pressure cooker with 3 times the amount of water to its volume. Add the bay leaf and bring to pressure. Cook for an hour and a half. After an hour and a half, let out the steam from the pressure cooker and remove the cover. Now, after removing the bay leaf, divide the mixture into two parts, and salt. One part will be put on the burner with potatoes, that have been peeled and cut into cubes. The other will be placed in a shallow dish. Meanwhile make a rich sautee with carrot, onion and celery in olive oil and, once the vegetables have softened, pour in half of the bean preparation that was put aside. Continue cooking the two parts for about 30 minutes, making sure that they are not too liquidly. Blend the bean and potato mixture, leaving to your discretion the broth, however make sure that the mixture comes out creamy . Serve in soup plates: spoon the blended beans on the bottom layer of the bowls, and add the whole beans on top. Garnish with toasted bread, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.