Beans and Greens

Beans and Greens is a classic Italian recipe that’s as delicious and healthy as it is comforting. You’ll want to make this easy regional specialty again and again!

Check out these other great Italian recipes like Broccoli Rabe, Baked Ziti and Grandma’s Dandelion Greens.

A close up image of beans and greens in a pan with a wooden spoon holding them up.

Beans and Greens

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Every area has 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; this Greens and Beans recipe.

I’ve heard some people call these (or a variation of these) Utica Greens but those are not the same thing as Beans and Greens. It’s my understanding that a traditional Utica greens recipe includes things like peppers, bread crumbs and prosciutto (if you’re from Utica, please correct me if I’m wrong) Either way, my family has been making Greens and Beans for years and we love them dearly.

This recipe is pretty darn fantastic for a few reasons. First and foremost they’re easy and delicious and full of savory, garlicky flavor. Do I have your attention now? They’re also pretty healthy being that the primary ingredients are escarole and beans. And since there’s no meat, it’s also pretty easy on your wallet (although it would be perfectly delicious with meat added!).

A close up overhead image of beans and greens.

Tips for making Italian greens and Beans

  • One item that makes life a lot easier (and takes out a little prep time) is a garlic press. Sure, you can totally chop the garlic, but I say, work smarter, not harder.
  • If you need to, boil the escarole in batches. One other gadget that makes it easier to do this without changing the water is a scoop colander, to scoop it directly from the pot into the saute pan when the greens are tender. This is also fantastic for pasta! You can totally make this without it, but it makes life easier.
  • Get the oil nice and hot over medium high heat before adding the garlic cloves. You’ll reduce heat later when it simmers.
  • Don’t burn the garlic- it’ll add a bitter taste to the oil. Keep a close eye on it, turning often and if it burns, wash the pan and start over.
  • Always taste before serving and add salt and pepper if needed. For an xtra kick add even more red pepper flakes!
  • This is an excellent appetizer or side dish but it can also be a great main dish. Meatless Monday anyone?

A bowl of escarole and beans with a spoon in it and the pan of it in the background. Also with bread on the side.

What kind of greens do I use for this?

Traditionally this is made with escarole, which is a mild green that isn’t overly bitter like some of its cousins. I’ve heard of some using collard greens, but I personally don’t view that as authentic to this recipe.

What about the beans?

I’ve always made this with Cannellini Beans but in a pinch Great Northern Beans work as well.

Is beans and greens a good make ahead meal?

Totally! It reheats well and lasts in the fridge all week!

How do you serve beans and greens?

This dish offers a ton of variation options. You can serve it over pasta. You can add meat to it (maybe pancetta or capicola, which you would add at the beginning or chicken or Italian sausage which you would add at the end). You can also add more broth and serve it as an escarole soup.

Can you make greens and beans vegetarian?

You can turn it into a true vegetarian dish but subbing out the chicken stock 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.

Can you freeze greens and beans?

This freezes well, so don’t hesitate to freeze your leftovers. That’s assuming you have leftovers, which we often do not. 🙂

A close up of a spoonful of this greens and beans recipe with the bowl in the background.

Ingredients for this Beans and Greens recipe:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Escarole
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Romano cheese

Ingredients to prep ahead:

  • Roughly chop escarole
  • Peel garlic
  • Drain and rinse beans

Helpful tools:

  1. Garlic press
  2. Large saute pan
  3. Wooden spoon
  4. Chef’s knife
  5. Cutting board
  6. Scoop colander
  7. Measuring cups
  8. Measuring spoons
  9. Saucepan

 

4.94 from 15 votes
A square image of a wooden spoon in a pan of beans and greens.
Beans and Greens
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Greens and Beans is a classic Italian recipe that's as delicious and healthy as it is comforting. You'll want to make this regional specialty again and again!

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Patty Scuteri and Rose Scuteri
Ingredients
  • 3 bunches fresh escarole, cleaned, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, half of them whole, the other half minced or pressed
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (depending how spicy you want it- start with less, you can always add more later)
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth (if you use two it will be more like a soup)
  • Romano cheese, to taste
Instructions
  1. 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 raw in later steps but I learned to par cook them first.

  2. While the escarole is boiling, heat the oil over medium high heat. 

  3. Add 3 cloves of whole 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). Stir and turn the garlic often until it is golden brown (keep an eye on it, if it burns you'll have to clean the pan and start over again).

  4. Once the garlic cloves have been removed, add the beans, broth and using a garlic press, add the remaining garlic cloves into the pan. Cook for a couple minutes stirring frequently.

  5. Add the escarole and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered, stirring periodically.

  6. Sprinkle with Romano cheese to taste (this replaces salt) and serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

This keeps well for a week in the refrigerator and also freezes well.

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions!

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68 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah Ella (Mumx3x)
    May 17, 2016 at 10:22 am Oh this sounds amazing! I love anything Garlic flavored, I think I'd add a little meat though - not too much! This would also be nice as a soup, yum! Goodness, I'm hungry now haha. I shall pin this to my pinterest board for future reference. Thank you for sharing! :)
    • Reply
      Jessy
      May 18, 2016 at 10:15 pm Thank you, Sarah- garlic really does make everything better! You really can take it in so many directions. I actually ate it again today over pasta with some chicken on the side! Enjoy :)
  • Reply
    Renata Pereira
    May 17, 2016 at 11:03 am This seems so delicious! I absolutely love Italian recipes not only because they always taste great, but because they're generally pretty easy. This garlicky flavor must be fabulous! Will give it a try!
    • Reply
      Jessy
      May 18, 2016 at 10:11 pm Thank you! I'm all about keeping it simple and delicious. Who wants the hassle of extra work? Let me know how you like it! :)
  • Reply
    Dana
    February 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm This looks delicious! The pictures remind me of the greens and beans you can get from a deli called Ciaccia's on the west side of Rochester. I don't get there as often as I'd like since we live on the east side but they are literally to die for.
    • Reply
      Jessy
      February 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm I've heard of Ciaccia's but I've never been (we live on the Westside). I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for the rec!
      • Reply
        Marcy
        January 23, 2021 at 7:04 pm Greece here:) love this recipe. I usually add beans at end. This week I’ll follow your recipe!!
        • Reply
          Jessy Freimann
          January 25, 2021 at 10:22 am I was raised in Greece (actually here at my Mom's house at this very moment)! Enjoy :)
    • Reply
      Janelle
      January 16, 2021 at 10:19 pm I’m also from Rochester area! This is one of my favorite recipes!
  • Reply
    Lindsay
    June 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm I'm also from Rochester, been in NC for 10 yrs now. This recipient is a nostalgic celebration every time! Thanks for the recommendation on par boiling the escarole.
    • Reply
      Jessy
      June 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm Hooray for a fellow Rochestarian! I have some family in the Charlotte area, they own a few popular bars- NC looks amazing- I'm glad to hear you like the recipe :)
  • Reply
    Stefanie
    May 12, 2018 at 6:46 am Fellow Rochesterian here, going to be making this recipe today and wondering if and when you had the original three cloves of garlic back into the recipe. Or was that just to flavor the pan? Thanks for your help!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      May 14, 2018 at 7:27 pm We don't usually put it back in but you totally could if you like a stronger garlic flavor. Side note- woohoo- Rochestarians Unite! We're in Spencerport :)
      • Reply
        Casey
        September 22, 2018 at 4:00 pm So werid....Brockport here! Why are we all drawn to the same thing? :) Can't wait to try this!!
        • Reply
          Jessy Freimann
          September 26, 2018 at 9:34 am Yaaaaaaassssss! Brockport has the best TJMaxx! Western NYers know what's good <3 Enjoy :)
        • Reply
          JS
          September 23, 2020 at 8:44 am Another thumbs up from Brockport! Just started to get a little chilly ... wanted to warm up with some soup and this was a delicious version of a favorite!
          • Jessy Freimann
            October 27, 2020 at 11:01 pm Hi Neighbor- we're in Spencerport! Thanks for sharing, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
  • Reply
    Crystal Faulkner
    August 15, 2018 at 2:59 pm This is such a cool recipe! So fresh and fitting for this season! Thank you for sharing.
  • Reply
    Carolyn
    August 17, 2018 at 10:57 am I love this healthy and delicious recipes!
  • Reply
    Jersey Girl Cooks
    August 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm I love this healthy comfort food! I come from an Italian family and we make this a lot!
  • Reply
    Karen T
    August 27, 2018 at 11:43 am Just made this yesterday. So delicious!! I added one teaspoon of salt for my family. I know not ad healthy, but we felt it needed it. Thank you for the recipe!!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      August 27, 2018 at 3:53 pm Yay- so glad you liked it! That's the great thing about it, is you can adapt it to your tastes :)
  • Reply
    Michele RZEPKA
    February 6, 2019 at 7:45 pm Im from Utica and I know the guy that gifted us with wonderful Utica Greens if you want the full recipe. Send me an email and I'll give it to you. I'm trying your greens and beans tonight😀
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      February 6, 2019 at 11:05 pm I just emailed you- Woohoo for Western and Central New Yorkers! I'd be thrilled to try the recipe, thank you SO much! I hope you enjoy our take on Greens and Beans <3
  • Reply
    Jaimie
    March 22, 2019 at 7:47 pm Delicious! I've had this dish many times in local Italian restaurants but never made it until I found your recipe. It is so flavorful and I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. By the way, I'm from Brighton, NY!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      March 26, 2019 at 9:33 pm Woohoo, Rochestarians unite! I'm so glad you liked it Jaimie!
  • Reply
    Tara
    November 3, 2019 at 11:03 am Trying this tonight! We’re also rochesterians! We’re in Bushnells Basin. I’d love the Utica Greens recipe if Michele Rzepka happens to see this!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      November 4, 2019 at 7:00 pm Yaaaaasssssss love a fellow Rochestarian!! We were at Eastview today <3 I never got the utica Greens recipe but if I do I'll definitely send it your way!
  • Reply
    walkerny
    November 24, 2019 at 3:54 pm Greens & Beans and Utica Greens are two separate dishes. Most places that serve Utica Greens serve Greens & Beans as well. Both escarole based but Utica greens have no broth, and a whole bunch of other ingredients.
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      November 25, 2019 at 2:55 pm Yes, as I mentioned in my first paragraph, there are people who refer to greens and beans as Utica Greens but Utica Greens are different.
  • Reply
    Katelyn Phillips
    January 22, 2020 at 8:29 pm Hey Jessy! It’s been a long time - #cheesersforlife (jk lol) Was looking up greens and beans and your recipe popped up! Super excited to try it all the way from San Francisco. I was craving a little bit of home and this couldn’t be more perfect :) I’m excited to try more of your recipes! Spicy dandelion greens will be next
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      January 23, 2020 at 9:19 pm Hey hey! I love SF- it's such a great city! I hope you're doing well- o glad you stopped by- and keep in touch <3
  • Reply
    Jo
    February 10, 2020 at 7:18 pm Hi! Would love to try this recipe! Can you give what would be the equivalent amount if using dried beans? Thanks. Jo
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      February 13, 2020 at 11:11 am Hi Jo- Google tells me that "for a recipe that calls for one 15-ounce can of beans, you can cook 3/4 cup (4.5 ounces) of the dried version and be in the ballpark. Conversely, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of dried beans, you'll need to buy two 15-ounce cans to have the 2+ cups worth of cooked beans the recipe will eventually yield." Let me know how it turns out!
  • Reply
    RM
    February 22, 2020 at 1:32 pm Just made this to bring to dinner party later today. Turned out excellent, thank you very much! I’ve been craving the food of “my people”, lol. Italian descent, Rochester (Greece) born and raised. Been living in eastern NC (Greenville) for 25+ years. Good food around here, but alas no good Italian food. Wegmans just opened in Raleigh! Dinner guests will sure appreciate this side dish! Thanks to whoever mentioned Ciaccia’s, forgot about that place and haven’t been there since a teen. Y’all have me planning a return to Monroe County now to go on Italian foodie tour. Savoia for sweets, Martusciello’s bread, Calabresella's sub, Pasta Villa etc., and maybe Red’s Brook House to see old Greece folk. I’m hungry now! Thanks again for recipe.
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      February 24, 2020 at 12:19 pm Ahhhh I love it! So glad you enjoyed it- I was actually raised in Greece, what a small world! It sounds like you'll be doing some good eaating!
  • Reply
    Heather
    March 1, 2020 at 9:01 am I'm in Hilton! :)
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      March 1, 2020 at 9:43 pm Woohoo! I'm from Greece originally, now in Spencerport!
  • Reply
    Maureen
    March 2, 2020 at 11:06 pm Could you use spinach instead of escarole?
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      March 4, 2020 at 2:20 pm You could, although they cook down a lot more than escarole, so you might consider a meatier green like chard. Good luck!
  • Reply
    Dana
    May 28, 2020 at 1:42 pm This turned out so tasty, I just made it! I followed the recipe and added a few sprigs of fresh rosemary to the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes then removed them. I also added a touch of butter because I love the creaminess it adds. Thank you!! This will now be one of my go-to recipes.
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      May 28, 2020 at 3:39 pm I'm so glad you loved it! And your add-ins sound seriously delicious <3
  • Reply
    Kim Williamson
    September 6, 2020 at 10:30 am This is one of my favorite comfort foods! I also grew up on greens and beans!! My Nonni would use spinach and sometimes collard greens, either way it tastes like home! Thanks for sharing !!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 11:03 pm Love this- thanks for sharing! Grandma recipes are the best!!
  • Reply
    Jean
    October 4, 2020 at 6:17 pm Made it today and used pancetta for flavoring, it was delicious!! Put it over rigatoni, nice hearty fall meal!!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:54 pm Yummmmm- I love the idea of adding pancetta! Brilliant!
  • Reply
    April
    October 5, 2020 at 3:26 pm I’m in Hilton! I was in Greece but just recently moved. I’ve been using your recipe for two years now and just came to the reviews. How weird that all of us Rochesterians were brought here lol
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:54 pm Hi April! I was raised in Greece! So glad you like it <3
  • Reply
    Diana
    October 26, 2020 at 8:13 pm Fellow Rochesterian here!! This was so quick, easy, and healthy! I added some spicy sausage for some more flavor.
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:46 pm Woohoo- love a fellow Rochesterian! So glad you enjoyed it, I bet the sausage made it even better!
  • Reply
    Allison
    October 31, 2020 at 11:59 am Im from Rochester too! Never expected to see these comments from a random Pinterest search. This pin looked as close to what I love so I clicked on it.
  • Reply
    Geof Baker
    November 6, 2020 at 7:15 pm Jessie, Born in Rochester, moved to Massachusetts as a kid then moved back to Conesus Lake when I got married, now in Richmond Virginia. There was a great little Italian storefront restaurant not far from Nick Tahoe's that got me hooked on Greens and Beans. Making your recipe for our friend's party, Soup Night, where the guys have to cook. My wife is a vegetarian so I will be using vegetable stock in lieu of the chicken, and I will have some sauteed spicy Italian sausage on the side to add in. Can't wait to try this!! I will post again after the party and let you know how it went!! Thanks again for posting this recipe, I am excited to try this!!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      November 10, 2020 at 10:11 am Hi Geof- how awesome- I used to go to Camp Stella Maris as a kid (the best!). I hope you love the Greens and Beans!
  • Reply
    Geof Baker
    November 13, 2020 at 6:57 pm Jessie, the Greens and Beans were a HUGE hit at Soup Night! Out of the 12 different soups that were at the party, my buddy Bob Mancino's Italian Wedding Soup and my Greens and Beans took Top Honors!! Thanks for giving me back that taste of Rochester!!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      November 17, 2020 at 7:52 pm Woohoo- so glad you all loved it and congrats!
  • Reply
    Jackie
    January 12, 2021 at 6:16 pm Made this tonight. Im in brockport haha
  • Reply
    Janelle
    January 16, 2021 at 10:27 pm I’m from Rochester area too! This is one of my favorite recipes! Reminds me of my Nani’s home cooked meals, but soooo simple! I’m a grad student so I don’t have time for complex meals. This one has all the flavor, without the effort. Love it!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      January 17, 2021 at 4:14 pm Thanks Janelle- this is my grandma's recipe <3
  • Reply
    Sue
    January 18, 2021 at 5:54 pm Born and raised Rochester Italian here also! Just recently moved to Victor. Have been using this recipe for a long while and I always add a little spinach (I love spinach!) and have had rave reviews. Occasionally add some pasta and spicy sausage, YUM! Thanks!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      January 25, 2021 at 10:23 am Yummmmm- I bet the spinach addition was so good!

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