Borlotti Bean Stew in Olive Oil and Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

Imagine a dish so versatile it can be served as a main or a side, warm and fresh out of the pot or chilled out of the fridge. Accompanied by rice, by toasted bread or by pasta, it's one of my favourite bean dishes to make regardless of the season or the occasion.

Nutritious, extremely filling and full of dietary fiber, beans can be incorporated in salads, soups, stews or even desserts. There is a great variety of beans out there to choose from and I believe this recipe is perfect for those who want to experiment with a different kind of bean, the Borlotti (cranberry) beans. These beans will have a creamy texture and they taste surprisingly similar to chestnuts. Particularly great for plant based eaters, because of their high protein content (17 grams for a cup) and extremely high content of vitamin B complex. They are also a great option for those interested in weight loss and blood sugar regulation thanks to their low glycemic index (14 from 250).

This is a slightly altered version of a very popular dish called "Barbunya Pilaki" in Turkey and while growing up, it was one of my favourite olive oil dishes. While it is usually served as a meze (tapas-like small appetisers) at fish restaurants, at home, it is made as a main dish, to be eaten with rice or bread. These beans are also quite popular in Italy and are used to make stews perfumed with herbs like sage and bay leaf, complimenting the nutty flavour of the beans. So this recipe combines the Turkish and Italian inspirations together to create a dish bursting with flavour.

Tips and Tricks:

- It is important to specify that for these olive oil based dishes, the quality or the type of olive oil you use will alter the taste of your dish. From my experience, a smoother tasting olive oil might need less sugar and a bitter, more acidic one might need more.

- If you're using potatoes that are high in starch, they might end up melting away before your beans are cooked through, so make sure when you pre-boil your beans, they are just slightly under if you want to keep the integrity of your potatoes during the initial cooking.

In all honesty, I find that melted away potatoes make the sauce thicker and the whole dish a little tastier.

- If at the end, your beans, potatoes and carrots are done but the consistency is too watery, take the lid off and let the water evaporate and the sauce thicken. If you ended up with undercooked beans, add some more water and cook further until they are done.

- This dish can be stored in the fridge up to 3 days. So it is a great dish to make ahead for guests.

Bon Appétit!






500 grams of dried Borlotti beans

1 large potato, cubed

1 large carrot, cubed

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp tomato paste

2 large grated tomatoes or 1 small can tomatoes

1,5 tsp salt

1,5 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp black pepper

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf

Parsley, chopped


1. Soak your beans overnight for 12 hours.

2. If you're using a pressure cooker, you can skip the first step and boil your beans in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes, until they are still very slightly undercooked.

3. If you're not using a pressure cooker, pre-boil your beans in a regular pot until they are slightly undercooked. (I rather not specify a boiling time here because this will depend on how long you have soaked your beans beforehand)

4. While your beans are boiling, wash, peel and dice your carrot, onion and potatoes and grate your tomatoes.

5. Take your pre-boiled beans, give them a rinse and set aside.

6. In a large, preferably wide pot, heat up your olive oil and sweat your onions until they are translucent.

7. Add the tomato paste and sautée it with the onions until the tomato paste is cooked.

8. Add the cubed carrots and potatoes and sautée for about 5 minutes.

9. Add the grated tomatoes and cook further for 5 more minutes.

10. Add your beans and cover them with water going 4 cm (1,5 inches) above them.

11. Place the two crushed cloves of garlic and 1 bay leaf on top, cover and let it cook until your beans, carrots and potatoes are all done.

12. Take it off the heat and remove the garlic cloves and the bay leaf.

13. Add chopped parsley to taste.

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