Katie Herring is sales and marketing manager at Cultivate

Anyone who, like me, is trying to reduce their meat or animal product intake will know all about the value of beans.

Beans are a good source of protein and the amino acid make-up of their proteins is a perfect complement to many of the other common plant protein sources like rice, nuts and seeds.

That’s why I was excited to see that our local supplier, Sandy Lane Farm, had grown Borlotti Beans this year and we now have them to sell at each of our stops.

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans in the US, are a joy to behold: their mottled pods range in colour from deep purple to shocking pink and open to reveal pearly white beans with specks of red, resembling exotic birds eggs.

They’re almost too pretty to cook, and although it’s a shame their colour fades once you have, they are as tasty as they are beautiful.

Related to the kidney and pinto bean, the Borlotti is a common bean in Italy where it is used for soups including minestrone, pasta e fagioli and panissa.

You won’t often find them available to buy fresh, usually appearing in their dried form which need a good few hours of soaking before you can even think about cooking them.

In their fresh form though, they’re ready to go immediately and you can cook them in gently simmering water for about 25-40 minutes.

How long they take depends on how fresh they are so just give them a test after 25 minutes and when they can be easily squashed between finger and thumb they are done.

It’s the melting, buttery texture of Borlottis that make them so irresistible and eating them drained, tossed in good olive oil with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of apple balsamic vinegar will really allow them to shine.

Alternatively, they are great flavour absorbers so work well if you want to add a little heartiness to soups and stews for when the weather turns colder.

These beans also count towards your five-a-day and are packed with B vitamins.

They may not be able to grow a giant beanstalk but I think Borlottis are truly magic beans!