A budget-friendly, schedule-friendly, belly-friendly spin on a classic Old World comfort food just in time for the holiday rush? You’re welcome in advance. Beans and Greens on Garlic Toast is a super-fast and flavorful meal that will satisfy a wide array of palates and diet plans. Forget PB&J. Buttery white beans and garlicky greens are going to be your new favorite dynamic bread duo.
You know, if any dish should be trending this winter, it ought to be Beans and Greens. The conditions may be crap out in the world, but they’ve never been better for falling back on more humble, robust fare. You know, peasant food? The kind of meal that had to keep the, uh, proletariat energized enough to work insanely grueling days and full enough to sleep through cold winter nights while being mouthwatering enough to make the struggle worth it?
Many a clever, thrifty and downright delicious meal was born out of hard times. And whether you’re struggling to balance the books because it’s the holidays or you never seem to have enough time to cook even though you’re always at home (how does that even happen?!), dishes like Beans and Greens remind you that you can still find comfort in a family meal even on the most trying of days.
Those of us descended from East Coast Italian immigrants are well-versed in meals like “scarola e fagioli” (or “shcadole” for those of us who speak “Jersey”). Traditionally a soupier dish made from cannellini beans and escarole, it’s one of those nostalgic recipes that got handed down that was ripe for just a few slight tweaks to bring it into the 21st Century.
First and foremost, it’s tasty as hell. Next, it’s a ridiculously cost-conscious meal, and depending on where you shop, you could probably pay for this entire recipe out of your change jar. Third thing, it’s ridiculously fast and easy to make. (Like, Rice-a-Roni is more complicated.) Number four, it packs a wallop in the healthy and filling department and is loaded with protein, fiber, iron, and a slew of other vitamins and minerals. And fifthly (it’s a word now!), it’s amazingly versatile. Not just in terms of “add bacon and, voila, it’s not vegan anymore,” but you could eat beans and greens all week, for every meal, and never have the same version twice.
So pound-for-pound, is this the perfect meal? I’ll let you decide. But when the Beans and Greens revolution begins, just make sure I get proper credit for my advocacy work.
How to make beans and greens
- Make the garlic toast. Brush sliced bread with olive oil and brown 6 mins per side in a 425°F oven.
- Sauté garlic in a splash of olive oil in a deep pan or dutch oven.
- Add kale and wilt until the volume is reduced by half.
- Add drained, rinsed white beans and broth of choice (chicken or veg). Simmer until the kale is cooked through.
- Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.
- Portion out over toasted bread and serve warm from the pan.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. You’ll get plenty of moisture from the broth and you’re not looking to thicken the liquid you’ll have.
- Toast the bread until it’s a deep golden hue. Remember, it needs to be able to hold up to the liquid in the dish.
- When I say season to taste, I mean it. This dish only gets better with more flavor but layer in moderation and taste, taste, taste! Remember, you can always add more.
Do I have to use kale?
Nope! Most quick-cooking hearty leafy greens will work, but keep in mind that cooking times will vary slightly. Try swiss chard (stemmed and chopped), mature spinach (not baby!), or escarole (for an Italian classic). Follow this rule: sauté the greens until the volume is reduced by half, then simmer with beans and broth until cooked through.
Make it your way
As written this recipe is vegan, but it’s really flexible for a variety of dietary needs and can be served as a side as-as, or a main over garlic toast:
- Make it gluten-free or grain-free: skip the toast and serve with poached or fried eggs
- Add cheese: shaved parmesan cheese is a great finish
- Add bacon: chop 4 slices of bacon; start by first cooking the bacon until golden brown, then add the garlic and proceed as directed.
- Add anchovies: mince 4 anchovy fillets and add them with the garlic in step 1.
More quick, nutritious meals
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Sweet Potato Hash
- 20-Minute Honey Garlic Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Broccoli Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta
Did you make these beans and greens? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below!
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- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
- 1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ c vegetable broth, or chicken broth
- kosher salt, to taste
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 8 slices crusty bread
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, whole, peeled
- Heat oven to 425°F. Brush each side of the bread with olive oil, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and toast 6 minutes, flip, then toast an additional 6 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the oven and rub one side with the garlic clove.
- Heat a dutch oven or large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the kale and saute 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the volume of the kale is reduced by half and the color is deep green.
- Add the white beans to the pot or skillet, then pour in the broth and give everything a good stir. Simmer until the kale is soft, the broth is mostly absorbed, and the beans are warmed through, about 10 minutes.
- Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Spoon the beans and greens over the toasted bread. Serve immediately.