Monday, August 23, 2010

Beans and Greens for Fun and Profit

"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

View the complete recipe


Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Now, how did you know that I had a garden full of kale and a kalephobic husband? This should do the trick.

Anonymous said...

My mother in law taught me to make this 50 years ago. Yours is a kicked up version with the lemon zest and anchovy instead of salt. Your way with the jarred beans is easier. My husband is an escarole man. Likes the tender leaves for salad. I even make a soup with escarole & spare ribs. Escarole rules next to broccoli rabe and collard greens.

Rita said...

oh, wow! that looks so good! a must try recipe.

Anonymous said...

Did you win!??!?!

Chef John said...


Chef John said...

Tamar, always happy to help yo with your vegetable-related marital issues!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Chef John! You now are a FoodNetwork star! But when you become famous, please don't forget to still post recipes for us fans to enjoy when they can't catch up wth the TV :)

Nat said...

YOU WON FN STAR! Congratulations! Post a celebration recipe. :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats for the win from a young fan, 15 years old :)

Non-Chef John said...

D'oh! Just saw that you won! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Major Congrats to you Chef John!

Your videos have added so much joy to my life. From watching your videos you took someone who could barely make a grilled cheese sandwich to making shepard's pie.

I enjoy cooking because of you.

Again, major congrats! :D

Anonymous said...

I see you won the YT challenge!!! YAY!!! I just sent you a congrats on YT--best of success to you!

Asian Malaysian said...

Way to go Chef John! If you will it, it is not a dream!

Love the beans and greens recipe but conflicted about the call to use home made stock which I usually only employ for rich(often french)dishes because I find it such a pain to make and store that I only use it "for special occasions". Hopefully your demo will change that.

J e l e n a said...

Hi Chef John! Well I think you'll be happy to know that somewhere out there in a far away land someone is eating your Cream of cauliflower soup today for lunch. It is a fantastic recipe and I'm looking forward to making many more of your ingenious creations. Here is my post
so come on over and see how it turned out. I've added a potato to the cream and a pinch of nut meg . Hope you don't mind !

Chef John said...


startcooking said...

Hi Chef John,

This looks fabulous - can't wait to give it a try! (I too am married to a kalephobic man who might just be convinced to give this recipe a try!)

Question: what do you do with the leftover anchovies?


P.S. I love your video on boning a chicken wing!

Anonymous said...

Italian MSG. Funny.

Michael @ said...

Looks delicious; and of course it can be veg if you just skip the anchovy and use a good quality vegetable stock, or even just simmer in a little dried porcini mushrooms. Nice meeting you at IFBC today!

Anonymous said...

Made this for dinner last night and my husband was in absolute heaven! He kept telling the kids it was ok if they did not finish their dinner cause he wanted to nab theirs too. It was so funny.
Thank you!

Pyrofish said...

Made this this weekend for my girlfriend, and man were we impressed! I had some Kale, so I used that instead, and finally got to use my preserved lemons. Really a great dish, and I look forward to trying it with your choice of more tender green, but the Kale was quite good.

WoundedEgo said...

Am making my second batch right now. Such a "I feel GREAT about what I'm putting into my body right now" meal, but entirely yummy. I kinda wish it were a blizzard out right now, to maximize the effect.

I agree with others that Kale is great choice for the endive (whatever that is).

philogaia said...

Well, it is now December and in my part of the country pouring rain. Just right. And a bunch of dino kale in the fridge looking for a dish. I also made a huge batch of chicken stock yesterday. Looks like it is going to be Chef John beans n greens tonight! I intend to add a bit of parmo rind to the soup since I have it.

And there was a question about storing anchovies. I can't speak to the oil stored kind. If possible get the salted kind in the tin. The flavor is superior. Transfer it all plus the salt to a glass jar and put it in your fridge pretty much forever!

Kristin said...

I made the recipe and it is indeed scrumptious. I just love recipes that you can use the word 'scrumptious' to describe and don't send you simultaneously into paroxysms of guilt. I used kale since I had it and freshly made chicken stock. I used salted anchovy and it is rather strong in anchovy taste (okay with me.) I think it is because when a recipe says 'one anchovy' what is meant may be one fillet, not one fish. I used one fish. Fine. I agree with the parmo crisps but as I need to be gluten-free my relationship with yeasted bread is a bit problematic. Soooo, I made toasted Parmesan disks. Whoa baby. That works! I made little flowers that sat at the edges of the bowl, and then chuckled at myself for dressing up a dish of beans that I'm eating alone curled up in my favorite chair. But this dish seems to inspire such silliness.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hey Chef!

I'm thinking that I just may have some FoodNetwork Star Potential in me!

I modified your recipe ever so slightly with what I had available in the galley.

1 can of collard greens
1 can of cannelli beans
1 tin of tuna
4 minced cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper
red pepper flakes

... and to my pleasant surprise, my culinary masterpiece was certainly quite edible! ... and as you like to say... Enjoy!

Maureen said...

Chef John,
Do you think fresh collard greens would taste good in this recipe? Of course I would cook it much longer.

I made your chicken masala but used madeira wine instead-fabulous!!

Thank you so much for your videos.

Anonymous said...

I had some dried beans that were burning a hole in my pantry, so decided to make this over the weekend. So after brining the beans for 24 hours and then simmering them for two hours, I had saved myself about $0.92 and was caught up with the recipe.

The recipe is good, and my wife and I really enjoyed this dish. But I made a few mistakes. First, my chicken stock was pretty bland and in addition to probably not reducing it enough (I had a bunch of hungry kids clamoring for dinner) it needed more flavor. Second, I missed the amount of lemon zest that was called for in the recipe, and having just purchased my first microplaner, was having too much fun zesting and added way too much lemon. It was still good, just too lemony.

So -- I think this made for a nice first course, but in my case at least it didn't have enough body to serve as a main course.

I definitely plan to make this again but with a better chicken stock and as a nice starter for a heartier meal.

Thanks Chef John for another great recipe!

Unknown said...

Made this recipe using 1 qt. miso soup instead of the chicken stock so my vegan hubby could share it with me. No escarole in my area, so subbed with kale. Still turned out SOOO fab!!! Instant family favorite! Thanks for all your talented and witty videos!

beemo said...

Eating a bowl of this as I write, made with spinach instead of escarole. No anchovy so I threw in a few drops of fish sauce and a pinch of MSG. Fantastic!

Molly said...

Ah, I am many years late commenting on this blog and video (typical me). As a newbie home pressure canner I thought I needed to Can. All. The. Things. And now I have many white beans canned and wondering what will be done with them. Enter your recipe! Alas, I've never met an escarole here in Eastern Washington but from reading comments kale is an acceptable substitution? I do have dehydrated kale but hubby hates kale (I'm thinking I may be able to sneak it past him once it is rehydrated). But here is my big question and I hope you will eventually see this comment before my pantry product expires...would it be acceptable to use anchovy paste instead of the single filet and if so, how much? Thank you if you have the time to answer.