Minestra, Traditional Gibraltar Recipe

Minestra is a typical dish from Gibraltar of Italian origin, specifically from Genoese immigrants that settled hundreds of years ago. Some people like Minestra chunky (like me, I prefer to dice all the vegetables) and other people like to blend the vegetables into a sauce.  Whether the vegetables are blended or left as diced, is down to personal preference and is just as good. This dish is a stew made with borlotti beans, which are typically used in Italian soup recipes (you can also use pinto beans), vegetables, pasta, and a hint of basil.

Minestra is usually made with a type of pasta which we call ‘fideos‘, which is a generic term in Spanish for pasta noodles. In this context it means short strands of spaghetti or vemicelli pasta noodles, about 3cm (1 inch) long and slightly thicker in width. If you can’t find it you can always break spaghetti strands into small pieces.

This dish is also typically served with grated mature Dutch Edam cheese, which is hard, crumbly and has an intense taste. It may seem strange to use a Dutch cheese since Minestra is of Italian origin, but in Gibraltar mature Edam cheese is used in many dishes and it is one of our many quirks. However it is by no means necessary and I always leave it out to keep it dairy free and vegan.

Minestra, Traditional Gibraltar Recipe
Yield: 4 Servings
Difficulty: Easy
Cooking time:


Minestra is a typical dish from Gibraltar of Italian origin, a stew made with pinto or borlotti beans, vegetables and pasta with a hint of basil.



  • 100 g borlotti beans (or pinto beans), dry
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g kohlrabi
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil (or more depending on taste)
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 100 g thick vermicelli pasta (fideos)
  • 250 g green beans
  • 150 g pumpkin / butternut squash
  • 100 mg saffron sachet (several fronds)
  • 3½ oz borlotti beans (or pinto beans), dry
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3½ oz kohlrabi
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil (or more depending on taste)
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 cup thick vermicelli pasta (fideos)
  • 9 oz green beans
  • 5½ oz pumpkin / butternut squash
  • 1 saffron sachet (or several fronds)


  1. Soak the borlotti beans overnight (or at least 8 hours before).
  2. Drain the borlotti beans and add to a large pan with water from a recently boiled kettle.
  3. Bring to a medium simmer and in the meantime dice the onion, garlic, carrot, kohlrabi, courgette, aubergine and butternut squash and add to the pan with the olive oil.
  4. Slice the green beans and add to the rest of the vegetables together with the finely diced basil and saffron, bring to a simmer on a medium heat and cover.
  5. After about 30 minutes of cooking add the pasta and gently simmer for another 15 minutes or so.
  6. When the pasta and the beans are soft add salt to taste and serve.

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2 thoughts on “Minestra, Traditional Gibraltar Recipe

  1. One of the main ingredients is fresh basil and that is not in you recepie also we crush the garlic with the basil and olive oil and fry then add remaining ingredients until tender and last add the pasta we do not use saffron and the dish in the pic is a bit too dry sobadd more water

    1. Hi there, basil is indeed one of the main ingredients and is included in this recipe (2 tbsp). Saffron is a personal touch which I quite like for a bit more flavour. Also, when you leave the vegetables chopped and not blended it tends to look drier.

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