Aug 22, 2010

Escarole and Beans

Beans and greens. Another Italian favorite. The greens can be something other than escarole and the beans can be any kind you like But escarole and cannellini are a classic combination. Also, our New Roots Organics delivery supplied us with a giant head of escarole. The second I saw it I knew what we'd be eating this weekend.

This is a dish for any season and any time of day. Yes, I will eat beans and greens for breakfast. Why not?
This is a simple dish and it comes together quickly. And I love when I can cook a meal in one pan. Here are the simple ingredients.

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3- 4 garlic cloves, chopped or smashed
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 head escarole, washed and chopped
2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or the equivalent amount of dried beans you've cooked)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
pat or two of butter or favorite butter substitute
parmesan, to taste

I use a large skillet, about 3 inches deep with a lid. Heat over medium-high heat and add oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. You don't want the garlic to burn. Toss in the escarole. Using tongs, toss all the greens to coat them in the olive oil. Cook until the escarole starts to wilt.

Add the beans and combine. Add about a half cup of water, lower the heat and cover. Simmer this for no more than 10 minutes. Then uncover and let some of the fluid simmer away. Add the butter, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Escarole can be bitter. Some times, it can be really bitter. Add a pinch or two of sugar to the dish if bitter is not your thing.

Serve it up and garnish with the parmesan.

Homemade croutons would be really good on top. And a hunk of crusty bread couldn't hurt. And there's nothing stopping you from making this a soup. In the beginning, while cooking the garlic, add chopped onion too, even a diced carrot and some chopped tomato.

Or make it a seafood soup and throw in some mussels to steam.

How about some diced sausage? It's endless. Beans and greens is the base for so many wonderful meals. What are some of your favorite beans and greens dishes?

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