Posted by: Rachel | June 27, 2011

greens ‘n’ beans…

A friend brought me a beautiful big bunch of mustard greens from her garden. They have a good bite, she warned me, but I already knew that. Mustard greens are wonderful, hot and dense in flavor, but they want cooking.

Now this is not really the “southern” style of cooking greens, although it could be. You know how my “recipes” are; you can (and I hope you will) change it up to suit yourself! This time I made it vegetarian-style and sort of “Mediterranean” (olive oil, no butter or lard or…) just simple and good.

It is a take on an appetizer I had at Barcelona a few weeks ago. Oh yum… They call it “Frijoles Blancos Y Escarole” (white beans and greens) and I could have happily eaten just that and skipped my “main” meal, although everything was delicious.

a full pot of greens

ready to cook down to deliciousness

Anyway, here is what I can tell you about cooking pretty much any kind of fresh greens (kale, mustard, chard, spinach, etc etc…): start with what looks like a ridiculous amount as greens cook down to almost nothing. And, when I cook mine I tend not to add water to the pot but rather to rinse the greens just before putting them in the pot. That little bit of water and their own internal juices is usually enough.

Now, almost all good recipes (of mine, anyway) start with “take one onion…”. I had half of a huge sweet onion in the fridge, and since I knew that mustard greens are sharp I thought it would be a good use for that “left-over”. You know, though, that if you don’t have a sweet onion you can use a white, yellow, or red onion… no worries! Olive oil in the pot, chop the onion, sauteé, add the greens, cook down, add the beans, and you’re on your way.

If you want a vegan version, that’s pretty much it, just add a squeeze of lemon juice and bit of finely chopped zest at the end if you like. Or, you can start with pancetta or just good bacon, cook it up, then add the onions, then the greens and go from there. You can add cheese at the end or not as you like. I hope you weren’t expecting specifics or exact measurements or anything like that! C’mon… you should know me by now!

This can be a starter, a side, a main course, you can add more liquid (chicken or vegetable stock) and turn it into a very good soup, you know how this works. Oh and you could certainly add some fire-roasted tomatoes at the end, but they are totally optional as well. I left them out this time, but they’re a great addition. This travels well, so it makes a good pot-luck dish. You can do it on the stove the whole way through, or start it there and finish it in a a crock-pot as you like.

The only thing I will suggest is the order of the players. I used canned beans this time, so they didn’t need much cooking. I made sure the onions were nice and cooked before I added the greens, then made sure the greens were good and soft before I added the drained and rinsed cannellini beans. Then I cooked the whole “mess” (in the Southern sense) until it tasted right, understanding that this is a “better-the-second-day” dish. Mmmm…!

So, here’s what I did:

Greens & Beans

ready to eat out of the pot

all dressed up... mmm!

1/2 of a large sweet onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 big bunch of cleaned chopped mustard greens
1 large can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (optional)
1/2 C good Parmesan cheese, grated
fresh ground pepper

In a large deep Dutch oven, sauteé the onion slowly in the olive oil. When the onion is translucent add another splash of olive oil and the freshly-rinsed greens, and cook down. When the greens are soft, add the beans. Stir to mix. Cook for 15-20 minutes, barely simmering, then add a good handful of freshly grated cheese, stir in and remove from heat. Salt, if you like (although I don’t think it needs it) and pepper to taste.

You know the rest: crusty bread, a nice hibiscus iced tea or red wine, good friends, mmmmm! What greens do you like? Be sure to tell us how you rework this, OK? Mmmm…!



  1. Looks great. I make something called beans and greens, just thought that was funny. This would be great with black eyed peas. But I can never argue with Cannellini.

    • Will you share *your* recipe? Please?? Is it anything like this?

  2. Delicious, and pretty typical style dish here in Andalucia (apart from the parmesan…but I love the idea of that). The call dishes like this “spoon dishes” (platos de cuchara)!

    • Spoon dishes? I love that! Yes, not *quite* soup… but a bit slurpy. Oh yum… How do you do yours? Garlic? Probably next time… other spices/herbs? I think a bit of smoked paprika would be dandy. And, do you grow mustard greens? I love kale and chard as well. And I don’t think I ever met a bean I didn’t like… Mmmm…

  3. Hmmm, I find greens a little ‘foreign’. So I’m going to use spinach. I just had a similar dish served with rice made by a Bangladeshi woman, using spinach, chickpeas, etc. forgot what she called it, but it was great.

    • Seriously? You tell us about “a similar dish served with rice made by a Bangladeshi woman, using spinach, chickpeas, etc.” (which, btw, sounds *divine*) and at the same time say you “find greens a little ‘foreign’”? (grin) I think spinach would be dandy — but wow does it shrink when you cook it! Listen, that chickpea dish, was there curry? I’m curious (and hungry!). Tell us what you can… please!!

  4. I’ll find out. Will buy more food from her this weekend, and see if she’ll be my personal chef this summer here in W TX.

    Everything she made was SO good!

  5. So happy to see such beautiful use of my greens. While most things in the garden are suffering from the heat and dryness, the mustard greens are thriving. Thanks for the recipe, Rachel.

  6. I love how mustard greens taste with a little pork and white beans. This looks wonderful.

    • You know, the toughest thing about food blogging is not sounding like a braggart – but this *is* good! (grin) How do you prepare yours? Nothing wrong with adding pork, at least not at my house. Mmmm!

  7. […] 'n' um, chickpeasI won’t bore you with another variation of greens and beans; you know how to do this as well as I do! Still, the greens and the chopped stems (of both colors […]

  8. […] know I’m going to use those cooking greens in a pot of Greens and Beans next week, and I may just throw in the beet greens as well. Mmmmm… hungry […]

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