Cranberry beans (the white ones shown above) are popular in Italy and well liked for their creamy, nutty flavor. The pod is usually white with pink/magenta streaks in it...and the beans are similarly colored. Unfortunately, this beautiful coloring fades when you boil them. In Northern Italy, Cranberry beans are called Borlotti and they are usually boiled until soft and served with a simple mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper. This is a delicious and easy preparation to showcase the flavor of the beans.
Heirloom beans (shown below) have a darker coloring--almost pink beans with dark streaks, but this coloring also fades with boiling...
I discovered cranberry and heirloom beans at my local farmers market. They were so pretty I just had to buy them and find something to do with them--I made them as described above and it was delicious...Beans are really low in fat and high in nutrients so I try to incorporate them into my diet as much as possible..
Serving suggestion: Both types of beans are also great for bean dips, soups and stews, on toasted crostini, or with a tomato-based sauce.