What are Romano Beans?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Romano beans are a form of flat snap bean which originated in Italy. Many Italians cook with these beans when they are in season during the summer months, and they are also cultivated in other regions of the world. Specialty grocers and farmers' markets sometimes carry them in the summer, and they can also be grown at home, assuming you live in an area with a Mediterranean climate.

Romano beans may be available in a variety of colors.
Romano beans may be available in a variety of colors.

Like other snap beans, Romano beans are supposed to be eaten whole. They are considered ripe when they make a crisp “snap” if they are broken in half, and they have a very mild flavor and a tender texture. These beans are often braised with other summer vegetables and eaten as a side dish, and they can also be added to soups, stews, stir fries, and assortment of other dishes. You may also hear these legumes referred to as Italian flat beans or Italian snap beans, but don't confuse them with fava beans, which are sometimes labeled as “Italian broad beans.”

Romano beans may be used in stir fries and stews.
Romano beans may be used in stir fries and stews.

These snap beans are flattened, rather than rounded, as one might expect. To use Romano beans, cooks have to snap or trim off the ends and rinse the pods to remove any dirt from the field. These beans can be lightly cooked to retain their crunchy texture, or cooked until they are extremely tender. However, overcooking will cause the beans to turn into a tasteless mush, so cooks should take care when preparing them in braised and other long-cooked dishes.

In addition to being available in classic green, Romanos also come in yellow and purple, for cooks who like to play around with different colors in their cooking. When selecting Romano beans in the market, cooks should look for crisp specimens with even coloration and no soft spots or signs of mold. Limp, listless beans should be avoided, and the beans should be stored in paper bags and used within a few days for best results. These legumes can also be pickled.

To grow Romano beans, gardeners should obtain seeds from a garden store or a friend, and start them indoors in the late spring. Once the seedlings have established themselves, they can be planted outdoors after the last chance of frost in a warm spot. Romano beans are climbers, so they will need strings or a trellis to grow, and they appreciate medium-level watering which keeps the soil moist, but not wet.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Can Italian beans be canned? If so, what is the recipe? I know an Italian gentleman who does can his own beans but do not know him well enough to ask for a recipe. Help!


All kinds of dried beans can be cooked in a pressure cooker without being soaked.


@TunaLine -- I'm not sure how good they would be for soup -- the article says that they get mushy if you cook them too long, and I would think that would kind of put you off the idea.

If you really wanted to include these in your soup, then I would used dry romano beans. That way at least you've got a harder bean to start from, which means it won't get mushy as fast.

It could even be cheaper -- a lot of grocery stores sell bulk dried beans, so you might be able to get a good deal for your soup!


Are romano beans good as soup beans?

I want to make one of those really rich eight bean soups, and am trying to choose which varieties to include.

I thought they might be good since one article I read said they take a long time to cook.

Has anybody used romano beans for soup before? Does anybody have any tips?


I've always liked to have romano beans with ham. I know, I know, the classic combination, but sometimes you just can't beat a good beans and ham dinner.


Oh, these are good! Steam till just tender, then roast or saute with olive oil and garlic till a bit browned. Even the canned ones are good.

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