Next time you yearn for some comfort food, how about a classic Italian stew that’s super healthy, incredibly delicious, and totally vegetarian? Even better, you need only one pan and 20 minutes!
Italian Beans and Greens requires a few simple ingredients, cannellini beans, escarole, veggie broth, garlic, and a hefty sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It’s a meal that needs nothing more than some crusty bread on the side to soak up all the savory, garlicky sauce that’s bursting with flavor.
Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the chicory family. It has a mild, slightly bitter flavor. As it cooks, the escarole loses its bitterness and becomes pleasantly mild tasting. It’s a staple in Italian cooking, whether it be in soups, salads, or side dishes and is readily available in the produce section of most supermarkets.
Even better, you can customize this dish however you would like. You can serve it over pasta, pre-cook some Italian sausage and add it at the end of the cooking process, or you can add more broth and you’ll have a delicious escarole soup.
What’s more, you can make this dish ahead of time. It lasts in the fridge for close to a week and freezes well for up to three months.
Why We Love These Ingredients
Escarole is a treasure trove of antioxidants, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, K, and folate. The lignans in escarole may help lower inflammation and promote healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Cannellini beans are rich in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics, so they can balance gut flora and support healthy, smooth digestion. They are also a reliable source of protein, low in fat and calories, and rich in in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research shows that a diet rich in polyphenols can protect against diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
Garlic is a prebiotic, which means it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut to produce short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids help support the health of your colon, immune system, and digestive tract. Garlic also contains protein as well as Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, manganese, selenium, and iron.
Pro Tips To Get You Started
To clean the escarole, cut off the root end of the escarole head and separate the leaves. Remove the inner stem since it’s bitter with a tough taste. Place the leaves in a large bowl of water, swish them around for a minute or two, and then drain.
You can boil the escarole in batches, then scoop it directly from the pot into the sauté pan when the greens are tender.
Don't burn the garlic! Burnt garlic adds a bitter taste to the oil. Just let it sauté long enough until it becomes fragrant, then add the escarole and beans to the pan. Squeeze fresh lemon juice at the end of cooking to get rid of any bitterness and add a refreshing bit of flavor.
Let’s get cooking!
Italian Greens and Beans
Greens and Beans is Italian Comfort Food that’s easy and healthy. You'll want to make this regional specialty again and again!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 5 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes [add less or more to taste]
- 1-1/2 pounds escarole, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into chunks
- 3 cups low-salt vegetable [or chicken] broth [add extra broth for a more soup-like consistency]
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan (chunk)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated parmigiano cheese for serving
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Prepare escarole: chop off the bottom root. Cut out the hard steam in the middle of the leaf and discard, then cut the leaves roughly. Drain bean liquid and rinse beans.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then, add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the broth, beans, and remaining olive oil. Cover and simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5-8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice into the pot of escarole and beans right at the end of cooking. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish generously with grated parmigiano or Romano cheese and serve with crusty bread.