HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What to do with speckled yellow/purple beans

  • s

I got some pretty beans today at the farmer's market, and I'm not sure how to use them.

They're pale waxy yellow with purple speckles and streaks, and much wider and wavier than regular yellow beans. The guy at the farmers' market called them rattlesnake beans, but aren't those usually green and fairly thin?

Anyway, any ideas on how I should cook them? They're very pretty, but too tough to be eaten raw.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. suby, do you mean they're too tough to eat raw in the pod, or after they're shelled? That makes all the difference in how you'd want to use them. Either way, they sound like a fun find.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dmd_kc

      I meant too tough in the pod.... the pod looks so great, it's a shame they have to be shelled.

    2. Those are cranberry beans. Never grown them myself. They are not famous for being great snap beans, but just about any bean can be eaten that way if you pick it at the right time. If they are too tough to cook as snaps, shell them. As for how to cook, beans is beans, except they won't take as long to cook as dried beans and will have a more complex flavor.

      And if the seeds are speckled don't be disappointed if that goes away when you cook them. That's the way it goes.

      1. zeldog's right, those are cranberry beans also called shell beans here in MA. I buy them all the time. A great warn weather dish is to simmer the beans for about 30-45 min. test for doneness. While those are cooking, saute an onion and garlic in olive oil, and when beans are done I usually drain and add fresh water to cover. Add onions and garlic to beans and add 1 can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for about 15 more min. Serve cold with a spritz of lemon juice. Delicious! This dish has it's origins in Turkey (i believe) and in Turkish it's pronounced barbinya.

        2 Replies
        1. re: andieb

          That sounds great. Thanks! I also have some sumac I've been wondering how to use, and I bet it'd work well.

          1. re: suby

            I've never used sumac, but I know it's used in a lot of Middle Eastern cooking. Also I forgot to mention, that you could also add finely chopped celery and carrots to the onions and garlic while cooking. It's a very flexible recipe.

        2. I've also heard them called Dragon's Tongue - we grow them in our small garden. Very young and very fresh, they can be eaten in the pod like haricots verts; dried and mature, we eat them like any other bean (kidney, white or the like) - soak and boil. The flavor is a little sweeter and nuttier than white beans, not quite as mealy as kidney.

          1. This is my favorite long cooked bean recipe. Give it a try, it might help with the pods. Just be sure to 'de-string' them if need be. This is an excellent - and easy - recipe:

            NOTE: chopped tomatoes are a good addition about halfway through, but not necessary.

            Green Beans Slow-Cooked with Bacon and Onions


            1. I only just saw these beans for the first time yesterday, and knew nothing about them. But, I added them to a homemade mixed veggie soup I was making, and they turned out very soft and tender, great flavor. I did a yahoo search for "purple and yellow beans" and found this site & your posts, so I signed up. I've appreciated all the info shared here. Now at least I know what these beans are, and more ways to use them.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lauralafing

                borlotti is another name for them. they are called barbunya in turkish. the dish is called barbunya pilaki. it is usally made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and olive oil, parsley(uncooked) and a tiny bit of sugar.you serve it cold. it is a nice appetizer and a meze with drinks.

                1. re: leiden

                  ok, i've seen borlotti beans on an italian food blog. nice to know that they are these cranberry beans. ps, leiden, i appreciated your idea about okra.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    i am glad i could be helpful,cheers.

              2. I agree that these look like borlotti beans which, as others have mentioned, are also known by many other names, including cranberry beans.

                As the beans mature the outer pod turns from a pale green to white then yellow. As this happens the beans inside turn from a lovely pale green with no spots to a creamy white with beautiful cranberry-coloured spots. In my experience, the beans are best when they are mature and the spots are nice and dark.

                You can use them in endless preparations but when they are fresh, we especially enjoy them as an antipasti - cooked then drizzled w some good quality EVOO, a little sea salt and maybe, a spritz of lemon juice. I place the shelled beans in a pan then cover w cold water. I always throw in a couple of cloves of peeled garlic for extra flavour and, whatever herbs I have on hand. Thyme or sage is especially good. Once they've come to a boil, the beans typically take 30 - 40 mins to cook through.

                Last night we used the beans in a pasta dish from this month's COTM:


                1. I grow rattlesnake beans in my garden and some of them come out wide like that. Unless the inner beans are firm and hard, you should still be able to cook them whole and enjoy.

                  1. Determining bean variety from photos can be deceptive. You'll notice references above to Cranberry, Dragon Tongue (aka Dragon Langarie), Rattlesnake, and so on, which are all quite different types of beans. They all do share the purple or red streaks on the pods. Most dry beans (like Cranberry or Tongue of Fire) can be eaten fresh if they are picked young, and all snap beans (like Rattlesnake) can be shelled if they are too old and tough to eat.

                    Whether the above beans were over-mature Rattlesnakes or under-mature Cranberry beans we will probably never know. I will say they do not look like Dragon Tongue to me as they are more green than yellow.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yellowstone

                      Yes, but the farmer who sold them said they were rattlesnake beans, per the OP.

                    2. i don't think those are cranberry beans (which looks a lot like borlotti beans)or rattlesnake beans, as the cranberry beans look more magenta (online pics anyway), and rattlesnake beans are green with purple spots?

                      i think those are closer to 'Dragon Tongue Bush Bean'? they look like what we're having tonight and i'm trying to fig out how to cook them. we ended up just steamed them and sprinkled some spice over them and they came out great~