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Marcella, a medium size oval shaped white bean - Rancho Gordo, Heirloom beans
Marcella bean topped with paprika, Rancho Gordo - Heirloom beans
Cooked Rancho Gordo Marcella bean
Rancho Gordo dried Marcella bean

Marcella Bean

$ 7.50

Free shipping on orders $50+

From heirloom Italian seed, this thin-skinned cannellini is named after Italian cooking hero, Marcella Hazan, who encouraged our growing it. A delicate tribute to a mighty force of nature. 

Marcella beans are grown in California from Italian Sorana seedstock. Sorana is a cannellini bean with incredibly thin skin and when cooked properly, an indulgent creamy texture. You can use them in your kitchen as you would any small white, European-style bean, but with an ingredient like this, simple is often better.

The Back Story from Steve:
One day I was checking through our mail orders and I stopped in my tracks. There was an order from someone named Marcella Hazan in Florida. She ordered beans and even my first book, Heirloom Beans. It couldn’t be! My mind raced back to the early 1980s in San Francisco in what was possibly the smallest apartment on Nob Hill. I was young, broke and so happy to be living in the city. Every opportunity, I’d push up my Murphy bed into the wall and have dinner parties. My bibles were Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico, Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco and perhaps the book with the most kitchen splatters was Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. I really think these women taught me to cook more than anyone else.

After the order was sent, Marcella and I became online buddies. In addition to food, I also love music and I’m a huge fan of Italian pop music from the 1960s. Marcella indulged me and I think even got a kick out of my obsessions.

At one point I asked her what beans she missed the most from Italy. I assumed she’d say Lamon, the famous cranberry bean from Veneto, or Zolfino, the delicate, almost gelatinous orbs that come from Tuscany, but she wrote back immediately that she missed Sorana, a cannellini bean I’d never heard of. On a whim, I had the staff go hunting for the seed and through some sleuthing and luck, we found it. I kept Marcella abreast of the growing and she was encouraging. She was really starting to have health issues around this time. I couldn’t wait to send her samples.

Sadly, she died right as we were harvesting them. I was heartbroken and the world lost one of its brightest and most intense lights. How great is it to have affected so many people with your work? I can’t imagine. I was pretty upset about this.

I contacted her husband Victor and told him about the bean and asked what he thought about our marketing it as Marcella, in tribute to her. I knew she was sensitive about lending her name and held my breath. Victor wrote back, “Marcella would get a kick out of your naming the bean after her.” He was encouraging about the project and you can bet the first bag out of the field went straight to him.

So we now are happy to present the Marcella bean. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Cooking Suggestions

Soups, pasta e fagioli, casseroles, dips

From the Rancho Gordo Kitchen

Use them in your kitchen as you would any small white, European-style bean. Add them mashed on some good crusty bread drizzled with your very best extra virgin olive oil and maybe a dusting of freshly cracked pepper.

Cooking Instructions

Check beans for debris, and rinse thoroughly. In a large pot, sauté aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic, celery, carrot, etc.) in olive oil. Add beans and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a full boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, using a lid to help regulate the heat, and gently cook until done, 1 to 3 hours. Salt when the beans start to soften. A pre-soak of 2 to 6 hours will lessen the cooking time.

Even though these beans are small, you should take your time and gently allow them to fully cook. They are edible quite soon after you start but the real creaminess comes with time and low, slow and gentle heat.

Similar to

Alubia Blanca, Cannellini, Navy, Great Northern

Latin name

Phaseolus vulgaris

Country of origin


"Rancho Gordo's Steve Sando gets the credit for reminding today's aspiring gastronomes that beans don't only come from a can. "

New York Magazine

Marcella Bean

$ 7.50
Shipping Details

Free Shipping on each order $50 and over

FedEx Ground shipments, and one shipping location per order.

For orders less than $50: 
Our flat-fee shipping charges via FedEx Ground is $11 (regardless of weight)
One pound or One Thousand pounds, it's the same price. 

Our flat-fee shipping charge via US Postal Service is as follows:
$11 each 15 pounds
All shipments to Hawaii, Alaska, P.O. boxes, and APO/FPO/DPO addresses must go via USPS.

I just placed my order. When will I get my shipment?

It normally takes us 1 to 3 business days to process orders. If we are experiencing further shipping delays, we will add a note to the checkout page with further information.

We process and ship orders from Northern California Monday through Friday, via FedEx or US Postal Service. A shipment can take from 2 to 5 working days to be delivered after it leaves our warehouse, depending on where you live and what shipping service you selected. Please call us (707/259-1935) to arrange for faster shipping if you need your order to arrive sooner. 

Express Shipping?

Please call us (707/259-1935) to arrange for faster shipping if you need your order to arrive sooner. 

The Rancho Gordo Story

You Can Blame it All on the Dutch

I was shopping one August for tomatoes and, despite Napa being one of the world's most magnificent agricultural regions, all the tomatoes were from a hothouse in Holland! Worse, they were hard and pale pink instead of the ripe tomatoes I was craving. I started to grow my own tomatoes and this eventually led to beans.

My first harvested heirloom bean was Rio Zape. They were pretty and easy to grow but I had no idea what to expect when I cooked them. They were similar to the pintos I liked but there was so much more going on. Hints of chocolate and coffee mixed with an earthy texture made my head spin. I was blown away by Rio Zape and the other heirloom beans I was growing, but also really confused why they were such a big secret. I took the beans to the farmers market, organizing things on my kitchen table. Soon there was a warehouse, followed by more markets and mail order. It seems we had struck a nerve. People agreed that heirloom beans were worth saving, growing and cooking. Currently our warehouse, a retail shop, and offices are in Napa, California, and a stop here is part of many tours of the wine country. 

All of my agricultural pursuits have been based on being someone who likes to cook but gets frustrated by the lack of ingredients, especially those that are native to the Americas. One of the things that originally drew me to beans was the fact that they are indigenous to the Americas. It seems to me these indigenous ingredients should be familiar, if not common. American cuisine is re-inventing itself and I'd love to include ingredients, traditions and recipes from north and south of the border as part of the equation. I love the concept of The Americas. I feel as if it's just as important as the European heritage many of us share.

You can read more about the Rancho Gordo story here.


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