bowl of beans and greens

Beans and Greens

Canned beans are a pantry staple in my house.  By adding a few ingredients to a can of beans, you can have a nutritious dinner ready in a snap.  Today’s post isn’t just about a low fat, high fiber recipe loaded with vitamins and proteins.   The story is also an illustration of how a well stocked pantry can help you to manage dinner even when you’re a couple of ingredients short.

Today’s recipe has Italian roots.  Its Italian name is minestra.  It’s a simple dish that can be made with or without meat (usually Italian sausage or pancetta).  In addition, it can be made with most greens that you have hanging around.  I have seen similar recipes published which call for escarole or  spinach.  I have even been known to use Swiss chard as the greens for this dish.  It’s extremely versatile and you really can’t make it wrong.beans and greens steaming after being ladled into a bowl

This week, kale was on sale at my local market for 2/$1.  This was a good thing because Sue Chef wants to try Kale Chips.  I’m sure we’ll have a story to tell blog post about them if we ever get around to making them.  Because of the sale, kale was my green of choice.three bunches of kale are needed for beans and greens

This recipe comes together quickly.  In fact, the bulk of the labor is in chopping up the onions, garlic, and greens.

First, chop 2 – 3 small to medium onions and 4-6 cloves of garlic.chop onion

Next, prepare the greens by washing them and cutting them into strips.

remove stems from kale
Break or cut off the stems from the bottom of the leaf.  These may not cook up in the same time as the more tender leaves and removing them makes for a more consistent texture.  It also avoids tough, chewy stems.
split the stem up inside of the leaf
The large vein (the thing that became the stem) should be cut in half lengthwise to speed cooking
split large veins in the leaf
This is a better view of the center vein of the leaf after it was split in half. Doing this ensures more even cooking.
slicing kale
Once the leaves are prepared, you can stack them on top of each other and slice and chop through an entire bunch at one time.

Saute the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until tender. (We use olive oil.)garlic and onion are sauteed in olive oil

Carmelized onions and garlic
The onions and garlic have begun to caramelize.

When the onions are soft, add the greens to the pot.

What looks like too many greens for the pan
Pile the greens into your pan. It will look like there is way too much for the pan, but don’t worry. Greens shrink when they wilt.

Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  (Easy on the red pepper flakes if there will be children eating.)Kale beginning to wilt

When the greens have begun to wilt, add 1 (14oz) can of chicken broth (approximately 1 1/2 cups).

Greens cooking in chicken broth.
There will be crackling and steam when the broth is added to the greens.

If, like me, you discover that there is no more chicken broth in your pantry, you can use a bouillon cube dissolved in 1 1/2 cups water or better than bouillon.  (Better than Bouillon has about half the sodium of a bouillon cube.)  If you will be using either of these substitutes, omit the addition of salt from the recipe.

bouillon adds quick flavor
Bouillon cubes or better than bouillon, either chicken or vegetarian, can be a life saver in the kitchen when trying to put together a quick meal. Keep some in your pantry.

Add 2 (14 oz) cans of beans, drained and rinsed to the pan.  I really like to use dark red kidney beans in this recipe because of the intense color contrast, but when I reached into my pantry, I only had one can of light kidney beans.  I substituted a can of great northern beans for the other can of kidney beans.

Beans added to greens
I really wanted to use the dark red kidney beans, but I used what I had on hand instead. I will make this again with the dark red beans and post a picture when I do. It’s so pretty that way.

Mix the beans into the wilting greens and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer 10 – 15 minutes until beans are heated through and greens are the desired consistency.

bowl of beans and greens
A steaming bowl of beans and greens ready to eat.

Serve with a crusty piece of bread, and you’ve got a great tasting, inexpensive meal that is very nutritious.  It serves well as a side dish or as a main course.   If you live with someone who must have meat in their meals, you can cook a pound of either mild or hot Italian sausage with the onion and garlic before adding the kale to the pan.

Here’s your recipe.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Beans and Greens
Recipe type: Entree or Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Beans served with greens are an Italian dish that hasn't gotten as much press. It's an inexpensive, nutrient rich dish that I'm sure you'll love. If you want to add meat to this dish, cook the onion and garlic with some Italian sausage in the beginning and finish the recipe as directed. You can also substitute spinach, escarole, or even Swiss chard for the kale. Total cost of recipe is $4.97 or $0.83 to $1.25 per serving depending on serving size.
  • 2-3 small/medium onions ($0.68)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped ($0.24)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil ($0.28)
  • 3 bunches kale, stems removed, center vein split, and leaves sliced or chopped ($1.50)
  • ½ tsp salt (omit salt if using bouillon instead of broth) ($0.01)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper ($0.04)
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste) ($0.05)
  • 2 (15oz) cans of beans (kidney, cannellini, or great northern)., drained and rinsed ($1.38)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken, or vegetable, broth. (You can substitue1½ cups hot water with bouillon dissolved in it.) ($0.79)
  1. Heat oil in large pan
  2. Saute onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
  3. Add kale to pan and toss well.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.
  5. Stir until Kale begins to wilt.
  6. Add broth or water with bouillon to the pan.
  7. Stir in the two drained and rinsed cans of beans.
  8. Bring to a boil. reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer for 10 minutes or until greens are cooked.

This post was updated March, 2018 to add pricing and nutrition information.

Beans and Greens--A delicious combination that's great as a vegetarian entree or as a side.

Nutrition Information is for 1/4th of the recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 231
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.1g
Saturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 779mg
Total Carbohydrates 33.6g
Dietary Fiber 8.2g
Sugars 4.2g
Protein 11.3g
Vitamin D 0%
Potassium 22%
Calcium 14%
Iron 19%

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