White Beans and Greens has to be one of the best 30-minute meals out there. Best part: you only need one pan to make it. Use any type of white bean you have on hand—great northern, cannellini, and navy beans all work well. You'll simmer the beans, kale, tomato paste, broth, and cheese all in one skillet. Then, I like to serve it with toasted bread for dipping. It's so simple and truly like the best kind of comfort food heaven!
This recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, since you can prep the whole thing in about 30 minutes. It's also really easy to clean up, because you make the whole thing in one pan.
Beyond weeknights, I also love this as a make-ahead lunch to pack for work or school. It reheats well, and you can even store portions in the freezer for months to come.
This is made with simple ingredients that you can easily find year-round, but there's something about beans and greens with fresh bread on a cold fall or winter night. It's just so incredibly comforting. Like a hug in a bowl.
Nutritionally speaking, beans and greens (along with cheese and olive oil) make a balanced meal with protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.
There's also a delicious mix of flavors from the aromatic onion and garlic, salty vegetable broth, tangy cheese, umami tomato paste, spicy crushed red pepper, and bright lemon.
Everything comes together to make a flavor-packed meal with very minimal effort. So good.
Here's everything you'll need:
- olive oil - or any oil that you like to cook with
- onion - I like to use a yellow onion for this recipe
- garlic - use pre-minced garlic if you want to reduce prep time
- kale - my favorite type of kale for this recipe is lacinato (Tuscan), but any type works
- white beans - great northern, cannellini, or navy beans work well. They can be canned or dried. If you buy dry beans, you'll need to cook them in advance.
- tomato paste
- vegetable broth
- parmesan cheese or pecorino romano cheese (or nutritional yeast for a vegan option) - pecorino has a stronger, tangier flavor
- crushed red pepper flakes - add for a little hint of spice. This dish is overall pretty mild.
- lemon - for brightness
- bread - optional for serving
See the recipe card at the end of this post for exact quantities and preparation.
Here's a quick rundown of how to make these white beans and greens. You can find more detailed instruction in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Heat oil and cook the onion and garlic.
Stir in the kale and cook until it's wilted.
Stir in the white beans, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Use a wooden spoon to mash some of the white beans and simmer until the liquid is reduced.
Turn off the heat and stir in cheese, lemon juice, and salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.
Hint: Use a wooden spoon to mash some of the white beans as they are cooking in the skillet. This thickens and adds texture to the sauce.
Here are a few ways you can swap out ingredients to fit dietary preferences or availability.
- Vegan - substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese.
- Kale - use spinach or collard greens instead.
- Vegetable Broth - you can also use chicken broth or beef broth if you don't need the recipe to be vegetarian. For another plant-based option, substitute vegetable bouillon cubes prepared in boiling water.
Want to change up this recipe to make it your own? Here are a few ideas.
- Spicy - increase the crushed red pepper flakes or add harissa.
- Mexican-Inspired - use pinto beans and add a tablespoon of chili powder. Swap out the parmesan cheese for Mexican-style shreds. Use lime instead of lemon. Serve with tortillas.
- Instant Pot - to prepare beans and greens in your Instant Pot, check out this Instant Pot Beans 'n Greens recipe from Brand New Vegan.
Try Butter Beans and Greens for a similar recipe with less sauce and more smoky flavor.
- Knife and cutting board - for chopping the vegetables.
- 12-inch skillet - you'll cook everything in the same skillet, so make sure yours is large enough.
- Wooden spoon - to stir and mash the beans. A wooden spoon won't scratch your pan like a metal one would. Silicone utensils also work well.
This recipe works well for making ahead of time. Store the prepared beans and greens in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days.
You can also freeze this recipe. Store the prepared beans and greens in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to six months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Toast the bread immediately before serving.
Simmer the ingredients (cook over low heat so there are only a few bubbles) until the liquid is reduced to the consistency you like. For more broth, cook less. Simmer longer for a thicker, heartier sauce. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a little more vegetable broth or water to thin it out.
As a dietitian, I often recommend beans and greens for a nutritious and accessible vegetarian meal. Beans are packed with plant-based protein and fiber, while dark leafy green vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals. Cook the beans and greens in olive oil and add a little cheese for a simple and nutritionally balanced dish.
Beans and greens are a wholesome and delicious meal all on their own, but if you're looking for pairing ideas, they taste great with fresh bread, quinoa, or pasta.
Looking for more 30-minute vegetarian recipes? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with White Beans and Greens:
30-Minute Easy White Beans and Greens
- Knife and cutting board
- 12-inch skillet
- Wooden spoon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or oil of choice
- ½ medium onion diced
- 4 large cloves garlic minced (2 tablespoons)
- 3 cups chopped kale (1 bunch, see note 1)
- 3 cups white beans drained and rinsed if canned (see note 2)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano cheese or nutritional yeast (see note 3)
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional for serving:
- Shaved parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
- Lemon slices
- Toasted bread
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the kale and cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted.
- Stir in the white beans, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Use a wooden spoon to mash some of the white beans. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, salt, crushed red pepper, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Transfer to a serving dish and serve with additional shaved parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, lemon slices, and toasted bread if desired.
- Kale: I like lacinato (Tuscan) kale for this recipe, but any type of kale works. You could also substitute spinach.
- White beans: great northern, cannellini (white kidney beans), navy beans, and chickpeas all work well for this recipe. Use 2 (15-ounce) cans of beans or cook dry beans in advance. Be sure to drain and rinse canned beans before using.
- Cheese: If you want to make sure this recipe is vegetarian, look for a vegetarian parmesan cheese (made with vegetable enzymes instead of animal rennet - find examples in this EatingWell article). For a vegan option, use nutritional yeast.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days or store in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to six months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. If serving with bread, toast immediately before serving.
- Nutrition facts are estimates only and do not include optional ingredients for serving, such as the toasted bread.