Fresh Cranberry Beans with Garlic and Sage

Borlotti all’Olio, Salvia, e Aglio

Now that fresh cranberry beans are more widely available in the States, even in supermarkets, you can enjoy one of the delicacies of central Italy: the rich, satisfying full flavor of fresh beans braised with olive oil, garlic, and sage. Canned beans are not a viable substitute here, because they do not cook long enough to fully absorb the flavor of the garlic and sage.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time from start to finish: hours


  • 2 pounds fresh cranberry beans in the pod
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Shell the beans.
  2. Lightly crush and peel the garlic cloves and put them in a large saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When the garlic just begins to brown, add the sage and the beans. Season lightly with salt and stir until they are well coated. Add enough water to come about 1 inch above the beans and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so that the water simmers gently, cover the pan, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. If all the water evaporates before the beans are done, add just enough water to cover as often as necessary. If the beans are almost done and there is a lot of liquid left in the pan, raise the heat to medium-high and finish cooking uncovered to allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
  3. Discard the garlic cloves and transfer the beans to a serving platter. They are best served warm but are also good at room temperature. Just before serving, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss well.


The beans can be prepared 1 to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Gently reheat, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water if necessary.