Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 30, 2010

Beans ‘n’ Greens

As the weather cools down, and the garden livens back up, there are finally brassicas coming ready again. By brassicas, I chiefly mean (in this context, mind) kale. Yes, kale has a strong flavor. Yes, kale has a potentially tough texture. Yes, kale is fuller of nutritional goodness than Santa Claus is full of holiday cheer. And yes, there’s kale out in my garden waiting to come on in to the kitchen.

The thing about beans ‘n’ greens is that it is one of those dishes which is more of a theory than a recipe. Every culture does some version of this dish. It’s got complete nutrition. It’s filling as all get-go. And it’s just plain delicious. So look around your pantry and/or your garden and/or your fridge. Don’t be afraid to give this food the character you prefer. There’s no one right way to do it. The only possible mistake here would be not making yourself a dish of beans ‘n’ greens.

Beans ‘n’ Greens

2 TBSP drippings, or oil (part of which should be dark sesame oil, spicy is special here)

1 or 2 large onions, peeled and chopped

1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped (or less if your inclinations and pantry that way tend)

1 tsp ground cumin (or Chinese five spice, or oregano, or herbes de Provence or chili powder or harissa or epazote, or whatever you like)

2 bunches  greens: kale, mustard, arugula, rocket, chard, spinach, rabe, savoy cabbage, tat soi, bok choy, collards–or a mixture of any of these

1 1/2 TBSP soy sauce

1 1/2 TBSP vinegar, any sort

1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked beans, chef’s choice

salt and pepper to taste

grated hard cheese, and/or extra virgin olive oil (if you’re going for an Asian version, you may want bean sprouts here)

Get a dutch oven, or some other heavy bottomed pan, hot over a moderate flame. Add the oil or drippings. When the fat is hot, add the onions and let them become golden. Now add the garlic and whatever herbs or spices you choose. Let these cook for a minute or two. Soak and rinse your greens–repeatedly, to get the grit and dust out of them. Strip out their stems and chop them coarsely. Put them in your cooking pot, with their rinse water still clinging to them. Add the soy sauce and vinegar. Lower the heat, put a lid on, and let them cook very slowly for 1 to 2 hours.

Add the beans and let them heat through completely. If the dish looks too wet, leave the lid off so that the liquid can evaporate somewhat. Correct the seasoning, using more vinegar if you think the beans ‘n’ greens could benefit. Serve this by itself or over potatoes or any cooked grain you have and like. Sprinkle cheese on top–or whatever other addition will give it more texture or character in your estimation. This is just so good. Try it and be amazed.



  1. This is probably the best recipe I ever learned from you. I make it about once every 10 days.

    • And it never gets old. I just served it at lunch and everyone had seconds, except for the ones who had thirds.

  2. Will cooking for 1-2 hours be too long for the more tender greens, like chard and spinach, as opposed to kale or escarole or cabbage?

    • Not if you cook them really low and slow. Equally, you could do a faster version with those as your green component and save the time. But don’t make it too fast, the alchemy between alliums, greens and beans is nearly miraculous. Although the stir-fry version is fairly fast….

  3. How about brussels sprouts greens? I’ve got loads of leaves out there, and never thought to use them before. Broccoli leaves, too.

    • Yes, absolutely. One year on the farm we sent Broccoli leaves out as kale for weeks before we realized what they really were! And they were good too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: