Italian Runner Beans

August 28, 2008

My mother's friend brought the seeds of these beautiful runner beans back from Italy sometime last year, and they were finally harvested. I have to admit, I kinda like the idea of her secreting seeds away in her purse and steeling across international borders. All for the love of gardening. Actually, it was all probably on the up and up, but I still giggle at the idea of a sweet bespectacled lady responding innocently to the Customs agent, "Only a liter of Chianti, sir."

Really, I absolutely do not condone smuggling or any illegal behavior. I promise. I blame it on my evil twin who likes the naughtiness of it all. Like drinking Cuban rum.


These beans are huge! And they are so tender and buttery. We steamed them until slightly soft, but still with some crispness, then simply tossed them with a little butter and salt and pepper.

I love when food takes the least amount of preparation, yet tastes more divine than anything.

(And, I swear, smuggled beans from Italy do taste just a little sweeter. But don't tell!)



Sean's picture

Yum yummity yum! I predict a little pancetta in their future!

Ken's picture

I know these beans! They are delicious -- especially raw.

Hey, if a little prep is nice, no prep is best.

Hats off to you guys for growing your own food!

Alisa's picture

I also love buttered vegetables, but these beans do look big!

Cat's picture

I hate to pop up and be pedantic because the blog is great but what you have there are Runner Beans, fagiolo bianco di Spagna.

Broad bean is another name for Fava bean.

Sheri Wetherell's picture

Thanks, Cat, for the correction! We were told they were broad beans, but upon further researched we confirmed they are, as you pointed out, runner beans.
Thanks again! :)

Bill McKay's picture


They are not runner beans; they are not spagna beans (spagna are darker green and have a bit of fuzz on them).

They look like pole roma type beans If the seed is black, they are supermarconi (they are the most common). If another color, they could be any one of fifteen or so flat beans commonly grown in Italy.

In any case, they probably tasted pretty good. I like mine cooked well, cooled, cut into 2-3 inch pieces and served with some red wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley & salt & pepper.

Bill McKay