Similar to kidney beans, borlotti beans are especially popular in Italy but originally came from the New World. The fresh pods are attractively flecked with reddy pink and yellow while inside the beans are a stripy red.
It was the case that UK shoppers could only find borlotti dry or canned, in which case their colour is darker and more uniform, but the prettier semi-dried and fresh ones are becoming more readily available and are a great addition to a vegetable patch.
They are usually soaked overnight before cooking and, once boiled, the speckles tend to fade.
Borlotti feature prominently in the cooking of central and northern Italy and are authentically used for soups including minestrone, pasta e fagioli, and panissa.
They are delicious simply boiled until tender and drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Add salt after cooking or the beans will toughen.