When I spotted these beans in their long, pink-and-white pods at the market the other day, I immediately knew that I wanted to do something with them.

Borlotti, or cranberry beans, are common in Italian cooking, especially in Umbria, where the people are jokingly called mangiafagioli, or "bean-eaters."

I usually make thick, hearty, vegetable-strewn stews out of my beans, but these beans, fresh and fragrant, called for a technique to bring out the very earthiness of them. We cooked them simply, in fresh water with a little salt, then drained them and served them whole, with only olive oil, salt, and pepper as condiment.

I have never eaten beans like this before: so fresh and face-forward, unaccompanied by the usually cream, bacon, or herbs: beans alone -- what a revelation!

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