Borlotti Beans with Chard

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: June 25, 2021

Last Updated: April 8th, 20246 Comments on Borlotti Beans with Chard

Borlotti beans (or Cranberry Beans) are an Italian staple and eaten throughout the country. This filling and nutritious borlotti bean recipe is the perfect partner to meats, fish, and other vegetables and can be enjoyed year-round.

Borlotti beans cooked with chard (silverbeet) on a plate with a fork

I LOVE beans of any shape or form. There's something intensely satisfying about them. From soaking your own, to whizzing them up in the food processor to make dips, or creating mouthwatering sauces for them. This Italian borlotti beans recipe pairs the beans with another superfood (and another personal favourite) chard/silverbeet.

A packet of dried borlotti beans

What are Borlotti Beans?

Like many ingredients, Borlotti have different names around the World. Being European, I've always called them Borlotti, but they're also widely known as Cranberry Beans, Roman Bean, Romano Beans, Saluggia Bean, Gadhra Bean or Rosecoco beans! It's exhausting I know - for the purpose of this recipe we're calling them Borlotti.

Borlotti are medium-sized, around the size of a kidney bean. They're super healthy, and packed with Fibre, Protein, Potassium, Magnesium and Iron.

Borlotti beans cooked with chard (silverbeet) on a plate with a fork

Why this combination just works

It's Hearty, Healthy and Versatile - I LOVE beans and I love chard/silverbeet, so these two together are just perfect. the combination really fills you up and is the perfect little side dish to so many other dishes; fish, meat, poultry or just other veggie dishes.

Stuff you'll need + how to

Making this dish is pretty easy, and the results are so special. Here's the low down.

  • Borlotti beans - get the dried variety - cooking them yourself is easy, but if you're sort on time you can also used canned.
  • Chard - I like to use rainbow chard/silverbeet, but any variety is fine. You can also use Italian black cabbage, cavolo nero.
  • Aromatics - Onion, garlic and sage bring a little extra flavour
  • Stock - some vegetable or chicken broth/stock will add a depth of flavour
  • Parmigiano Reggiano - Everything tastes better with a dusting of Italy's tastiest cheese, right?

How to

  1. Cook the beans - I give you two methods, one in an Instant Pot/pressure cooker and the other on the stovetop. There's no need to soak the beans, I never soak any beans and never have an issue.
  2. Sauté the chard - Tip: I chop and fry the stems first then add the leaves. I'll also add some onion, garlic and sage at this stage for more flavour.
  3. Add the beans and stock - I cook everything together until the stock is absorbed and that's it! Done!
Freshly cooked borlotti beans in a bowl
onion, chard stalks and leaves fry in a pan with sage
Borlotti beans cooked with chard (silverbeet) served from a pan

Pro Tips to make your life easier

  • To my horror, I see people throw away the stalks from chard. They have so much flavour. Chop them up and sauté along with the onion. This = much flavour!
Onion, sage and chard stalks fry in a pan
  • My borlotti bean recipe is versatile and isn't limited to just using borlotti – white beans or cannellini are perfect, as are kidney beans, butter beans and even black beans.
  • Instead of fresh sage, you could use marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano or tarragon. If you don't have fresh, substitute with about 1-2 teaspoons of dried.
  • If you want to change up the chard, try spinach, kale or cavolo nero cabbage, and use a little more onion or a little celery instead of the cavolo nero stalks as they can be a bit tough.
Borlotti beans cooked with chard (silverbeet) on a plate with a fork

Serving and storing suggestions

  • Fridge - In an airtight container these borlotti beans will stay fresh for up to a week.
  • Freezer - Portion up into servings, in airtight containers or freezer bags and they'll be good for 3+ months.

Ready to get cooking?

I seriously can't get enough beans in my life (is that weird?) and I'll cook them in some variety once or twice a week. This borlotti recipe is one of my favourites, so versatile and at home with so many other dishes.

Great hot or at room temperature in spring, summer, autumn or winter. They pack a hearty, healthy punch and you just know they're doing all kinds of wonders to your wellbeing! Get into Borlotti, people!

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about this recipe for Borlotti Beans? Let me know in the comments.

Should borlotti beans be soaked before cooking?

Soaking beans makes them a little easier to cook. But honestly folks, this myth that beans MUST be soaked before cooking is not strictly true. I NEVER soak my beans and they cook just fine, every time. Don't fret, just cook from dried, low and slow and your beans will come out perfect every time.

Are borlotti beans the same as cannellini beans?

No, borlotti are a different variety. They have a mottled pattern when fresh and dried and are plumper than cannellini. They have a similar creamy consistency, but a notably more nutty flavour.

Are Borlotti beans easy to digest?

Yes! Most beans are easy to digest, in fact they provide a great form of fibre which, as we know, actually helps with digestion.

Borlotti beans cooked with chard (silverbeet) on a plate with a fork

Borlotti Beans with Chard

Rate this recipe

4.60 from 5 votes
Print Recipe Save Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 45 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 6
Calories (per serving) | 287


For the Borlotti Beans

Other Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (finely diced)
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled & finely chopped)
  • 3 sprigs sage (about 10-12 leaves)(left whole)
  • 1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • salt & pepper
  • Parmigiano reggiano (or pecorino, finely grated) (optional)


Cooking the Borlotti Beans (skip this stage if using canned beans)

    Instant Pot Method

    • Put the borlotti beans, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns into the Instant pot and cover with about 1.5 litres/qt of water.
    • Cook under pressure for 35 minutes then test for doneness. The beans should be soft and creamy. Cook in 5 minute bursts until done.

    Stove-top method

    • Put the borlotti beans, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns into a large pan and cover with about 1.5 litres/qt of water.
      Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently (partially covered) for about 1 1/2 hours on a slow simmer until the borlotti beans are soft and creamy.
    • Drain the beans and discard the water, onion and bay leaf and set aside.

    Making the dish

    • If you're using canned beans, drain well and set aside.
    • Strip the leaves from the chard and roughly chop. Finely dice the stems and set aside.
    • Fry the onion, chard stems and sage leaves gently in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and golden.
    • Add the garlic and fry briefly before adding the chard leaves. Let these sauté for 3-4 minutes until they’re wilted before returning the borlotti beans to the pan along with the stock.
    • Stir well to incorporate everything and let it sizzle for 3-4 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed. Remove from the heat.
    • Season with salt & pepper and fish out the sage leaves and discard.
    • Serve hot or at room temperature with a generous dusting of cheese (if using) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


    Change up the beans
    • In Italy, you can also make this dish with white beans or cannellini beans. But honestly, any bean will do.
    Add a little meat
    • For a meaty version, you could fry some pancetta, or Italian sausage with the onion and chard.
    Change up the greens
    • I make this dish mostly with chard, but it'll work equally well with cavolo nero cabbage, kale or collard greens too.
    • Fridge: Keep in an airtight container for up to a week and eat either at room temperature or warm.
    • Freezer: The beans will be good for 3+ months in an airtight container or freezer bag. I like to freeze them in portion sizes. That way, if I'm looking for an easy side dish, I can whip this out of the freezer, minus effort and fuss.


    Calories: 287kcal (14%) | Carbohydrates: 46g (15%) | Protein: 16g (32%) | Fat: 6g (9%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 269mg (12%) | Potassium: 1125mg (32%) | Fiber: 18g (75%) | Sugar: 2g (2%) | Vitamin A: 3208IU (64%) | Vitamin C: 27mg (33%) | Calcium: 123mg (12%) | Iron: 4mg (22%)
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