"Beans and Greens" is one of those special recipes that truly has it all – it's very easy and inexpensive to make; it's highly nutritious; it's soulful and comforting; and can be served as a main course, side dish, soup, vegetable stew, or my personal favorite…as an appetizer.
It's not my favorite because it's a great appetizer, which it is, but because it's so damn profitable. When I was in culinary school, we were taught the secret to making money wasn't from the main courses, but from selling lots of inexpensive-to-make desserts, salads, and appetizers.
"Beans and Greens" is a popular appetizer in Italian-American restaurants in Western New York, and whenever I travel back east to visit family, I'm always on the lookout for this local delicacy. I'm usually grinning to myself as I eat, fondly thinking back to school and that food costing class, knowing that I'm happily paying $7.95 for something that costs 45 cents to make.
This is my new favorite home version, and uses delicious, beautiful escarole. This type of curly endive has a pleasantly bitter flavor that mellows as it wilts into the hot, creamy beans. This recipe can be adapted a thousand ways, but no matter how you tweak it, be sure to use a good homemade chicken stock (btw, demo coming soon), or an all-natural, high-quality, low-sodium, ready-to-use broth.
If you try reducing some cheap canned broth by half, you'll have something salty enough to choke a water buffalo. Also, try and find some nice Italian cannellini beans. I like the ones that come in the glass jars, but canned will work also. If not, any white bean should do nicely.
It goes without saying, but do not even think about starting this recipe unless you've made an embarrassingly large pile of the Parma crisps. I hope you give both recipes a try soon. Enjoy!
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
2 (15-oz) jars or cans white cannellini beans, well drained, not rinsed
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 head escarole, or curly endive
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil