It tastes like its been stewing for hours and is sure to warm you top to bottom.
There is nothing more Italian than soaking up the last drops of an incredibly flavorful meal with a crusty piece of Italian bread. Case in point: my Grandpa Serge had a piece of Italian bread in his left hand at all times. He wouldn’t go a meal without it, always using it to mop up the best bits. He even dipped it into coffee, which was a typical breakfast during the Great Depression.
Another Italian food that he loved is beans and greens, or scarola e fagioli, a simple stew of escarole and cannellini beans. It’s referred to (lovingly) as “peasant food” because it’s a nourishing meal that feeds a lot of people inexpensively.
Something about the combination of classic ingredients like good quality olive oil, punchy garlic, bitter escarole, tender cannellini beans, and plenty of Parmesan makes this pure Italian comfort food. And the savory, garlicky broth is perfect for mopping up with bread.
Beans and greens is a hearty meal with a short ingredient list. It comes together in 30 minutes but tastes like it’s been stewing all day. It’s quick, easy to make, and uses only one pot, making it a go-to in our weeknight dinner rotation.
It’s a healthy, plant-based comfort meal that is highly underrated. You’re guaranteed to be fighting over any leftovers because it gets even better as the flavors meld and marry.
How to Make Beans and Greens
To serve 4 as a main and 6 as a side dish, you’ll need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 large heads escarole or 2 large bunches kale (about 2 1/2 pounds), washed and chopped
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, divided
2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 loaf sliced Italian bread, for serving
Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the garlic and pepper flakes. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned, about 1 minute, stirring constantly so the garlic does not burn.
Add the escarole or kale and 2 cups of broth to the pot. Stir and cover the pot with a lid. Cook until the escarole is fully wilted, mixing occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the cannellini beans. Add the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. The beans should be warmed through and the escarole soft and dark green.
Turn off the heat and add lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, and salt to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan and Italian bread. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Reheat covered in a small pot or pan, adding broth as needed.
A Riffable Recipe
Mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale, or chicory could be used in place of escarole. Dandelion greens also work, but they’re a tad more bitter. If you make a swap, be sure to test the greens to ensure they’re soft and fully wilted before serving.
Read More: What Are Chicories?
As for the beans, you could use any variation of white beans like navy beans, great northern beans, baby lima beans, or even butter beans. I’ve even used red kidney beans in a pinch.
Make it your own by adding extra red chili flakes, a splash of white wine, fresh parsley or basil, more or less broth, and however much Parmesan you feel is right—the limit does not exist!
My Favorite Ways to Serve
My favorite way to serve beans and greens is with crusty Italian bread (of course!). I often transform greens and beans into a soup so there’s even more dipping to be done. To do so, add a few extra cups of broth, a can of diced tomatoes, and short pasta like orzo or ditalini. Bring everything to a simmer until the pasta is cooked, adding extra broth as needed, and finishing with plenty of lemon and fresh parsley.
I also like eating beans and greens:
With crumbled or sliced Italian sausage
With sliced chicken cutlets
On top of cooked pasta like penne, rotini, or ziti
Over white rice
Read the original article on Simply Recipes.