This very simple recipe produces one delicious meal. Cooking cannellini beans very gently in a heavy bottomed pot or casserole dish for several hours on the stove or in the oven, results in a taste that can’t be passed up.
I make this dish when I want something that feels good: Whether it is a cold night, a rainy day, or when I’m not feeling the best, this nourishing meal of creamy and tender cannellini beans, along with hearty green, slightly bitter escarole and a good crusty bread hits the spot.
If you have the time dried beans are far superior to canned, but in a pinch I’ve been known to use canned, and it’s still really good.
Cannellini e Scarole
3/4 cup dried cannellini beans or 1 – 15 oz can cannellini beans
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
4-5 sage leaves
1 bird’s eye chili (optional) I enjoy the hint of spice, alternatively you could use a pinch of crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 head escarole
Rinse the dried cannellini beans and place them in a large bowl, fill with water and let them soak at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight.
In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the garlic, sage, bird’s eye chili pepper and 2 cups water. (Note: If using canned cannellini beans, only use 1 cup water along with the liquid from the can) Bring to a simmer on the lowest heat setting and cook, covered until the beans are tender, up to 2 hours. (Note: Cooking time for canned cannellini beans is 30 minutes to 1 hour at the lowest heat setting) Remove any scum that may rise to the top of the water. When the beans are almost cooked through, add the salt and freshly ground pepper.
Meanwhile, rinse and drain the escarole. Chop and set aside. When the beans are finished cooking, add the chopped escarole along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the pot and simmer until cooked down and wilted.
Serve with a good crusty bread or toast large cubes of bread and add to the bottom of serving bowl, before topping with the cannellini beans and escarole.