Italian white beans and escarole, also known as beans and greens, is a delicious recipe that uses a lesser known leafy green vegetable! It’s typically served like a thick stew with crunchy bread and can be a main dish, side, or appetizer.
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Are you familiar with beans and escarole? Growing up in a part-Italian family and in a region with really good Italian food, I was lucky enough to be exposed to this delicious recipe!
White beans and escarole is a stew-like dish with a creamy texture and plenty of garlic and red pepper flakes. Even though it can be eaten like a soup, I like to keep it thick by using less broth and adding the white beans with their juices (instead of draining them). This makes the liquid super creamy and the whole dish easier to spoon over crunchy bread, which is the best way to serve it in my opinion!
What is escarole?
If you aren’t familiar with escarole, it’s a leafy green vegetable that looks like lettuce but with wider, wavy leaves. Escarole belongs to the chicory family, which also includes Belgian endive and radicchio. These veggies typically have a bitter taste, but they taste delicious when cooked with the right seasonings.
Escarole, in particular, has a bittersweet flavor. Its taste becomes milder when cooked, and it’s commonly used in soups and stews, such as Italian Wedding Soup. Escarole is actually one of the best greens to use in soups, since it doesn’t lose all of its texture or get slimy.
How to Make Beans and Escarole
- Warm olive oil in a large skillet, add chopped escarole, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes. Add vegetable broth, and let the greens simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add a can of cannellini beans with their juices and some more broth if desired. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes to bring out the flavors. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as desired. Serve with crunchy bread!
Even though making sautéed escarole and beans is SO easy, these tips will be helpful to you the first time you make it.
- You can find escarole near the other heads of lettuce at the grocery store. My local store nearly always carries it, but some stores may not. If you can’t find escarole at the store you usually go to, it’s worth looking around to see if you can find it somewhere else. White beans and escarole is THAT good! 😉
- To prepare escarole for cooking, slice off the root, peel apart the leaves, and thoroughly rinse them under cold running water. Escarole can be pretty dirty, so it’s important to remove all of the dirt before cooking.
- For serving, seeded Italian bread is the best choice if you can find it. You can also serve escarole and beans over pasta. Add freshly grated parmesan cheese before you dig in!
- This dish is best served right away, and leftovers won’t keep well in the fridge. Serve it as a side dish to fish or meat or as a vegetarian main dish or appetizer.
More Italian Vegetable Recipes
Check out some of my other recipes that are inspired by Italian dishes like these white beans and escarole. Reader favorites include the Mushroom and Lentil Ragu, Grilled Panzanella Salad, and Baked Italian Zucchini Balls. For another warm dish using leafy greens, try the Garlic Lemon Creamy Kale Pasta.
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
White Beans and Escarole Recipe
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 head escarole - washed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt - to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 1 cup vegetable broth - divided
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans - with their juices
- Seeded Italian bread - for serving
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese - for serving
- Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped escarole, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes until the escarole is wilted. Pour in ½ cup vegetable broth, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
- Add the can of white beans with the juices and another ½ cup vegetable broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Divide the beans and escarole into serving bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. Spoon the dish over crunchy bread, or eat it with a spoon and have bread on the side. Enjoy!
- Look for escarole in the section with other heads of lettuce at the grocery store. Be sure to rinse the leaves thoroughly to remove dirt.
- This dish is best served right away, and leftovers do not keep well in the fridge.
- You can also serve it over pasta instead of with bread.
- Nutrition facts do not include the bread, cheese, or salt added during cooking.
Have a great weekend! – Lizzie
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Debbie!
This was super easy and delicious!
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN
Hi Suzanne, that’s great to hear! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, and thanks for leaving a review!