Ebogoné–Cranberry Beans, Sage, & Rosemary

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Cranberry Beans with Pasta by Spinach Tiger

I have mood swings when it comes to herbs. If you noticed my summer fare, you saw a lot of basil, parsley and thyme. Thyme is my summer go to herb for just about everything that isn’t tomato based. But as soon as October arrives, I crave everything rosemary and sage, which is why I couldn’t wait to add Marcella’s Ebogoné to the Cooking Italy schedule.

Rosemary and sage amidst the beauty of the cranberry bean, also known as the borlotti bean, October bean or French horticultural bean, is the best way to usher in the coziest time of year.

It’s not unusual for me to pair beans with pasta.  And, I’ll do it again. But, it’s a bit unusual to puree the beans (or mash them), to make a “sauce.” Embognoné is a trademark dish of the Dalla Rosa family, who own a trattoria for four generations in San Georgio, north of Verona. This is a Marcella Hazan recipe giving tribute to this family that has served this dish for 4 generations.

It is THE bean that is most often used in Italy’s pasta e fagioli. But did you know that many of the Borlotti beans in Italy are cranberry beans imported from America? I took this picture in Rome at an open market.

Uncooked, they are the most beautiful bean in the world. Cooked, they lose that gorgeous pink color, but they gain all their flavor, similar to a chestnut.

I will probably never pass a barrel of fresh cranberry beans again without a purchase. It is one of my life pleasure’s to sit and shell my own beans and cozy up to a slower food style. Fresh beans do not need to be soaked, and will cook in under an hour and the taste is worth the joy of shelling.

This is a perfect “cook from scratch” sauce, with just enough of the right ingredients and fresh herbs. You might be tempted to add in more fresh herbs, but I believe the recipe balances out perfectly and I would wait until you have put everything together before changing the recipe.

You can choose to make a homemade pasta or use a factory made. Marcella has assured us that there is nothing wrong with good factory made pasta, and there are some pastas a home cook will never be able to duplicate as well. I purchased a pasta that was made with chick peas and had a high protein count, and it was quite good.

If you can’t find cranberry beans, the next best bean for this dish is the pinto, followed by the red kidney bean.

The good news is that beans are healthy and a great option for recession times, and with food like this, you will feel very rich.

Tell me, what are your favorite beans and how do you most like to eat them?

adapted from Marcella Hazan’sEssentials of Classical Cooking


  • 3 pounds fresh cranberry beans, unshelled weight or
  • 1 1/2 cups dried
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon for sauce, 2 tablespoons for tossing pasta
  • 1/4 pound pancetta,chopped very fine to a pulp
  • 1/3 cup onion chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chopped fine
  • Chopped sage leaves, 1 teaspoon if fresh, 1/2 teaspoon if dry
  • Chopped rosemary, teaspoon if fresh, 1/2 teaspoon if dry
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for the table


Cooking Beans

  1. If using fresh beans, put in pot with covering beans with 2” inches water.
  2. Cover pot, turn on low, cook until tender, (check at 45 minutes). Do not salt until the beans are done.

Making Sauce

  1. In separate pan, add pancetta to 1 T olive oil in medium high heat, until rendered.
  2. Add onion until translucent. Add garlic, sage, rosemary. Cook for one minute.
  3. Drain beans, reserve some liquid.
  4. Mash 3/4 of beans, leaving some whole. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Add in pancetta and herbs. Add in some of the reserved water to thin the sauce.
  6. Add in cheese.
  7. Toss with cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

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