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Borlotti terrine flavored with Saba of Romagna

Terrina di fagioli borlotti e saba di Romagna

Say terrine, and you think of a rustic but elegant table, a timeless country house, and a crackling fireplace.


Italian recipes

What is a terrine?

To enjoy a terrine, you don’t necessarily need to live in the countryside.
If you love good food, you will find new inspiration in this preparation.

There was a time, I often made terrines.
Appreciated at mealtimes and also as gifts, on the occasion of events or Christmas, I would buy a ceramic terrine and, after washing it, I would use it for cooking.
I would then deliver the terrine, and its contents, wrapped in a kitchen towel.

But what is a terrine? It has the consistency of flan, cut into slices or of a pâté, creamy but not runny.

As you have probably guessed, the terrine’s name comes from the mold where they are cooked and brought to the table. The mold usually has a lid, but if not, cover it with aluminum foil when cooking to preserve the consistency.

Cooking is in a bain-marie in the oven. Cooking times can vary from a few minutes to an hour or more. Often, the ingredients are part chopped, part cut into strips, or at least coarsely. Even when they are creamy, I prefer slightly rustic terrines to perfectly smooth ones.

It’s a recipe you can serve as an appetizer or aperitif.

Or as a second course on a table where everything is already there: bread, breadsticks, a board of cold meats and cheeses, preserves and chutneys, bowls of seasonal salad, fruit. One of my favorite tables. Everyone sits down, even the house cook, and every one tastes and eats as much or as little as they want.

A glass of red wine and mild chatter to round off the evening.

Homemade bread recipes

Borlotti beans terrine

Borlotti terrine and Saba of Romagna

Do you know saba?
As Pellegrino Artusi wrote (Recipe No. 731), it is a grape syrup.
It is obtained after long cooking of the must obtained from Trebbiano, a white grape from Romagna. It has to boil for a long time until it almost becomes a syrup.

The saba romagnola is a bit like the balsamic vinegar from Emilia (HERE you can read the story of a visit I made to an ancient vinegar factory in Modena).

And as with balsamic vinegar, you can use saba to cook sweet and savory dishes.

I still remember the sweet smell of the saba boiling slowly and then the row of small bottles that found a place in the cellar, among the many good things that the “azdore” made and put away for family consumption.

And my grandmother used to tell me that when she was little, the saba was put on fresh snow to make ice cream. What a time!

I remember saba mainly as a condiment. For example, with beans. Once, saba and borlotti was a typical dish from Romagna that my grandmother made as a side dish.
Hence the idea of the borlotti terrine flavored with saba.

The bean terrine has an alluring taste, almost like meat, even though it is a vegetarian recipe. It has an enveloping flavor and a velvety texture.
This terrine needs no further cooking after the beans, but you can put it in the oven for a few minutes, covered, to serve warm.

If you don’t have saba (which you can make or buy), you can replace it with the same amount of balsamic vinegar or a mix of barley malt and honey or maple syrup (half and half).

Serve the bean terrine with bread and breadsticks.

Among the recipes on the blog, this terrine is perfect with radicchio and Roquefort salad (find the recipe here; if it is no longer plum season, replace it with red grapes).

Buona cucina, Monica

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Saba di Romagna

terrina di fagioli borlotti e saba di Romagna

Food tips

I used dried beans, but if you choose one fresh ingredient, follow the same method but without soaking.
If you use already cooked beans, go straight to cooking with the onion, adding the bay leaf in this step, which you will remove before blending.

You can use borlotti beans or other beans to taste.

Borlotti terrine flavored with Saba of Romagna 

serves 4
List of the ingredients

250 g beans (weight after soaking; corresponds to about 100 g dry beans)
saba or balsamic vinegar, 20g
one small red onion or 3-4 pieces of red shallot
two bay leaves
150ml water or stock
salt, black pepper, and olive oil to taste


(After soaking) Cook the beans in water with the bay leaves for about 15 minutes.

Drain, rinse under running water, and discard the bay leaves.
Keep a small spoonful of beans to one side.

Finely chop the onion or shallot and cook gently in a small pan with olive oil for a few minutes. Add the beans, stir, pour in the water or stock, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the beans are soft but not mushy.

Drain the beans, but do not discard them, and add them a little at a time while you cream them with a hand blender. Before blending, add a pinch of salt and pepper, a generous amount of olive oil, and the saba to the blender glass.

The consistency is soft but not sluggish. If there is excess cooking liquid, use what you need. Add the beans you have kept aside, mash coarsely with a fork, stir. Taste to see if it has the right amount of salt.

Place the pate in the bowl and leave it covered to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
Remove from the fridge one hour before serving. If you wish, heat the bowl, covered, for a few minutes in a preheated oven (190C degrees).

Borlotti terrine recipe

Italian peasant recipes

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