Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Christmas Bean/Fajioli del Papa and Vegetable Sauté

Christmas beans, or fajioli del papa (Pope's Beans) as they are known in Italy are heirloom gourmet beans, and a variation of the traditional Lima bean. These creamy white and rather large flat beans, mottled with splashes of maroon, are known for their meaty texture and wonderful nutty chestnut taste. They are ideal in a salad, full bodied enough for a casserole, or simply sauteed alone with some garlic. Even better why not try sauteing them with some of your favourite vegetables. I combined mine with summer zucchini, slices of mild shallots, yellow bell peppers and fresh San Marzano tomatoes. A drizzle of  Tuscan extra virgin oil and balsamic reduction is all that is needed for the final touch. Served with pieces of homemade rosemary  foccaccia, and  you have a delicious and complete well balanced meal. Once again, a taste of Italy out of your very own kitchen.
This is also an ideal recipe for vegetarians, vegans and gluten intolerant. Serves two as a main course.

Left dried Christmas bean/fagioli del Papa, and on the right beans which were soaked overnight in water

Cooked beans
The night before rinse the beans, and transfer them to a bowl filled with water. Allow to soak at least 8 hours.
Rinse the beans and put them in a pot with water at room temperature, enough to cover the beans, plus another 2".  Bring to boil, lower the heat and continue to cook for 11/2 to 2 hours or until tender.  Be sure not to salt the water as this will slow the cooking process.  Drain and rinse the beans. They are now ready to be used in your favourite recipe.

2 cups cooked Christmas beans (about 1 cup uncooked beans)
3 shallots thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 San Marzano tomatoes cut into sections lengthwise
1/4 cup Italian parsely, chopped
salt and pepper 

In a sauté pan heat 3-4 tablespoon extra virgin oil, and add the shallots and garlic.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes; add the zucchini and peppers, continue cooking another minute. Add the cooked beans and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Toss in the tomatoes, and allow to soften slightly, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper and toss in the chopped parsely. Plate and garnish with extra fresh parsley and drizzle with some extra virgin oil and balsamic reduction. Serves 2 as a main course.


  1. What a fresh and delicious Mediterranean meal. I've never heard of these heirloom beans, and I hope that I can find them at my local market. Thank you for sharing a vegetarian/vegan friendly recipe. I always am looking for more!

  2. Monet, I hope you will be able to track them down. They are really quite delicious and nothing like the regular green lime beans.
    Although,I'm not a vegetarian I do enjoy coming up with meatless recipes. You might also like to check out the tofu meatball recipe that I concocted for some friends.They are a take on my mom's original Italian meatball recipe, and can be found in the archives part of the blog.

  3. These are sold online by Rancho Gordo (, a great purveyor of heirloom beans.