I was very surprised at how much I loved this recipe for Italian Beans and Greens. My recipe is loosely based one I found in Ina Garten's cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. However, beans and greens are a concept found in many cultures and most don't require a true recipe. Using canned beans is a time saver and does not lessen the quality of the dish. That said, I will borrow a term from Ina, use good chicken stock. I had homemade stock in my freezer, that elevated the taste overall.
Most Italian beans and greens use escarole lettuce. I do like escarole, but I had kale available along with the remaining ingredients, with the kale making a fine substitute. I like this kind of recipe where you can sub in what you have in the pantry or fridge. I used cannellini beans, which are white kidney beans, very creamy in texture. Other beans that could be used are navy beans, or great northern white beans. I'm a big fan of Pecorino Romano cheese, using it and Parmesan cheese too.
Italian Beans and Greens
2 15-ounce cans white cannellini beans, unsalted
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 small cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped carrot
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large bunch of kale or escarole, cut into 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
additional hot chicken broth to serve, if desired
good olive oil for final drizzle to serve, if desired
Drain and rinse the white beans, set aside. Working with a large 11-inch pan or a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add in the minced garlic, the finely chopped onion, celery and carrot, sautéing for 2 minutes. Add in the chicken stock, drained beans, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash half of the beans in the pan, continue simmering for 3-4 minutes. Add the cut kale to the pan, cover and steam the kale to wilt into the beans. Stir gently to combine. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on half of the Pecorino and Parmesan cheese. Seve hot with additional hot broth if a soupy texture is desired. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top as preferred, and a drizzle of good olive oil.
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