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Every area has it’s local specialties. Here in Rochester, we have a large Italian-American population. This is awesome for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the tremendous amount of delicious Italian food that is available. One such dish is something that I’ve seen a lot of around these parts, but not so much anywhere else in the country. Depending on where your from, some people might call these (or a variation of these) Utica Greens. In our family, we call them Greens and Beans and we love them dearly.
This recipe is pretty darn fantastic for a few reasons. First and foremost they’re full of delicious, savory, garlicky flavor. Do I have your attention now? They’re also pretty healthy being that the primary ingredients are escarole and cannellini beans. And since there’s no meat, it’s also pretty easy on your wallet (although it would be perfectly delicious with meat added).
One item that makes life a lot easier (and takes out a little prep time) is a garlic press. I never used to use a garlic press and i’m not really sure why. It seriously takes out a ton of mincing time. And seriously, you guys; work smarter, not harder! One other gadget that makes it easier to boil the escarole in batches without changing the water is a scoop colander. This is also fantastic for pasta!
This dish offers a ton of variation options. You can serve it over pasta. You can add meat to it (maybe pancetta or capicola at the beginning or chicken or Italian sausage at the end). You can add more broth and serve it as a soup. This is an excellent appetizer or side dish but it can also be a great main dish (Meatless Monday anyone?). You can turn it into a true vegetarian dish but subbing out the chicken broth for veggie broth (maybe consider adding more garlic and crushed red pepper to up the flavor factor in that case). I personally enjoy it on it’s own with some nice, crusty, warm bread to sop up all that fantastic sauce. It also freezes well, so don’t hesitate to freeze your leftovers. That’s assuming you have leftovers, which we often do not. 🙂
Greens and Beans is one of my favorite Italian recipes. It's quick and easy to make, tastes delicious and is very healthy! Made with escarole and beans it is easy cheap to make and is a great Meatless Monday option.
10 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
55 minTotal Time
- 3 bunches of escarole, cleaned and trimmed
- 3 Tbsp. of olive oil
- Garlic (at least 5 cloves, more if you like it extra garlicky)
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 14.5 oz. cans of cannellini beans (you can drain them if you want, if not the sauce will be thicker)
- 1-2 14.5 oz. cans of chicken broth (if you use two it will be more like a soup)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the escarole for 5 minutes to par cook. You may need to do it in batches so as not to overload the pot. Drain and set aside. Note: you can also just add the greens but I learned to par cook them first.
- While the escarole is boiling, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add 3 cloves of garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to taste (the more you add the spicier it will be- I encourage you to at least add a little). Keep an eye on it, turning the garlic when you need to. When the garlic is a nice golden brown, remove it from the pan. If the garlic burns, throw it all out, clean your pan and start over. The burnt flavor will ruin the dish.
- Once you've removed the garlic add the beans, broth and using a garlic press, add the remaining garlic cloves into the pan. Cook for a couple minutes stirring frequently.
- Add your escarole and some salt and pepper to taste. Reduce your heat to medium low. Cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered, stirring periodically. Sprinkle it with some Romano cheese and enjoy! This keeps well for a week in the refrigerator and also freezes well.
This tastes great on it's own with crusty bread for dipping but it 's also delicious over pasta, with sausage or chicken or as a soup by adding extra broth.
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