Beans and Greens, this Italian dish was made often during the depression days. It was mostly considered a peasant food. Not only did it feed a large family, but it was healthy and hearty. I don’t really remember it being made too much in my family, we ate a lot of macaroni meals, followed closely by lentils, and we ate lentils and rice a lot. I still love it to this day and make it very often. Here are a couple of different ways for you to enjoy beans and greens and not spend too much time in the kitchen after a long day at work. I hope you enjoy them.
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small or ½ large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 head escarole (or 8 oz bagged), rough chopped
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, rough chopped
½ bag baby spinach, rough chopped
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
To continue to turn it into soup:
3 cups chicken broth
½ lb (half of a box) of thin spaghetti broken up or small macaroni of your choice
Add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to a large, deep frying pan and sauté for a minute or two until the garlic is lightly golden. Then add the onion and the fennel to the pan, cook another 3 minutes over medium high heat. Add all the greens, toss with tongs until well combined. Continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the greens are wilted. Stir in the beans and the salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until your desired softness.
At this point you have Beans and Greens! You can just eat a big delicious bowl topped with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can also serve it as a side with breaded chicken cutlets, or fried pork chops. But the way I eat it most has two more steps.
Once your beans and greens have simmered for 5 – 10 minutes, add about 3 cups of chicken stock to the pan. While that is warming, cook any small pasta. I like to use ditalini or broken up thin spaghetti. Drain the pasta and add it to the beans and greens. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve with any rustic bread. This is comfort food and at its best.
Served either as an appetizer as crostini or as a main dish, you cannot go wrong. So give it a try and eat delicious . . . Mangialicious!