Greens and Beans

Greens and Beans 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!

Greens and Beans is a classic Italian recipe that's as delicious and healthy as it is comforting. Made with escarole, cannellini beans, chicken broth, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and Romano cheese, you'll want to make this easy regional specialty again and again!

Greens and Beans

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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; this Greens and Beans recipe. Depending on where your from, some people might call these (or a variation of these) Utica Greens, although it’s my understanding that a traditional Utica greens recipe includes things like peppers, bread crumbs and prosciutto (if you’re from, 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 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 beans. And since there’s no meat, it’s also pretty easy on your wallet (although it would be perfectly delicious with meat added!).

utica 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.
  • One other gadget that makes it easier to boil the escarole in batches without changing the water is a scoop colander, to scoop it directly from the pot into the saute pan. This is also fantastic for pasta! You can totally make this without that, but you totally don’t have to.
  • 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 add more broth and serve it as an an escarole and bean 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.
  • This also freezes well, so don’t hesitate to freeze your leftovers. That’s assuming you have leftovers, which we often do not. 🙂

escarole and 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

greens and beans recipe

4.86 from 7 votes
Greens and Beans is a classic Italian recipe that's as delicious and healthy as it is comforting. Made with escarole, cannellini beans, chicken broth, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and Romano cheese, you'll want to make this easy regional specialty again and again!
Greens and Beans
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
Keyword: greens and beans
Author: Patty Scuteri and Rose Scuteri
  • 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
  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!

Try some other delicious classic Italian recipes:

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  • 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
      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! Renata Pereira recently posted...Murals and the Graffiti Park downtown Austin, TexasMy Profile
    • Reply
      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
    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
      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
    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
      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
    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
        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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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

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