Cannellini Beans with Escarole
Cannellini beans are a variety of white beans popular in Central and Southern Italy, particularly in Tuscany. Other names for the bean include white kidney bean and fazolia bean. They are similar to white navy beans.
Before cooking, cannellini beans must be thoroughly rinsed. When cooked, the cannellini bean is fluffy and creamy. They are typically known for their smooth texture and nutty flavor. In recipes that call for the beans, substitutions can be made with great northern or white navy beans.
Cannellini beans are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, and folate, a single serving of cannellini beans provides more than 20 percent of the recommended daily values of these nutrients. They are also a good source of protein, providing more than 15 grams per serving. Other nutritional benefits include their low fat content and calorie count. Each serving contains only 225 calories and less than one gram of fat.
To prepare cannellini beans, they must be rinsed and soaked overnight. They can be cooked in a pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes, or boiled on the stove top for 2-3 hours. One cup of dried beans yields approximately three cups of cooked beans.
This hearty meal is quick, simple, and favorable. All I look for in healthy comfort food. I cook dried beans a day or so ahead in order to make this dish. You can use canned cannellini beans, as well. I like the fact that dried beans are less expensive, not loaded with sodium, and I can cook them to the desired tenderness (which means they will be tender yet firm enough to standup to this recipe).
The dried beans have a very long shelf life, therefore, I make the entire bag and freeze for later use. This makes it so easy to pull a container out of the freezer on those nights that I want something nutritious, but I’m just not in the mood to cook.
Eat This With That
I eat cannellini beans several ways, but this is my favorite by far. I serve the beans with Escarole, which is flavorful, and slightly bitter. Escarole thrives in cool weather. It grows from fall through winter, and can be found year-round in most supermarkets.
I serve this dish with polenta. To make a quick meal, even quicker, I sometimes use prepared organic polenta in the tube, but of course the fresh made is best. I make it ahead of time, as well, freeze and pull out as needed.
Lighten It Up
Use fat-free polenta, add very little olive oil to your beans when cooking your dried beans. Healthy, and filling but low in bad fats.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Yields: 4 Servings
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large heads escarole
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups of precooked cannellini beans with some of the juice or 2 (16 ounce) cans, undrained
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in escarole, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing escarole, about 5 minutes, or until tender.
- In a separate skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic. Pour in beans with juices, and simmer until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in escarole and parsley; simmer 5 minutes more.