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Beans and Greens

Dishes to save you some green



Loyal readers may recall my rant from a few years back concerning my dizzying plunge into penury. Thank goodness I adjusted comfortably and today can happily report that good food is not dependent upon full coffers. In this interim of gift buying between Hanukkah and Christmas, I have been pinching my pennies more than the norm, which means forgoing the foie gras and relying instead on nourishing, affordable eats like beans and greens.

Beans and greens are great. They're totally complaint-free: cheap, healthy and all my annoying food-allergy friends shut up at the table and just eat. And beans and greens are flexible; there are so many kinds, almost all of which can be melded into a happy mélange of earthy, filling goodness. You don't even have to make a salad. They cook up into a one-dish meal that keeps well, and you can always add other things, like sliced porcinis, chunks of sausage, simmered apples or poached eggs. These are the sort of simple hearty dishes that you can feel smug eating after a long tramp through the woods in your galoshes with your dog, picking mushrooms and generally feeling happy about living in Humboldt.

Jada's Beans n' Greens

Serves 2 to 3.

Ingredients and method:

1 bunch greens (chard, spinach, kale, dandelion greens, collards or beet greens, washed, stemmed and chopped into rough 1-inch pieces

2 cans beans (great white or cannellini are choice — garbanzo or pinto will work), rinsed and drained

1 cup veggie or chicken stock

1 cup water

4 cloves smashed garlic

½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

fresh ground pepper (lots!)

¾ teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

In a wide, large sauté pan with high sides, heat the stock and simmer the greens and garlic, covered, for 5-7 minutes. Uncover and add all other ingredients. Return to simmering, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and let cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost all gone. Season to taste and serve drizzled with a little more olive oil.


My family's version of a standard Georgian dish (the country, not the state), a spread of the gods. Check the beans to make sure they are well cooked. Recipe from Darius Brotman. Serves 4.

Ingredients and method:

2-3 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon toasted coriander seeds (heat in a dry cast iron pan until you can smell them)

½ cup walnuts

1 can (1.5 cups) Great Northern white beans

1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 chopped yellow onion

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Ground black pepper

With a big mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, salt and coriander seeds to a paste. Add walnuts and pound to coarse paste. Drain beans and add about 2 tablespoons to the mortar and pound again. Mix in vinegar, water and oil. Add and mix remaining ingredients and the rest of the beans. Break up the beans roughly with fork. Let stand an hour before serving.

Beet Green Patties

Another Darius Brotman invention: a way of frying greens that includes cheese, so it's both full of vitamins and iron and a good hangover dish. As he says, "surprisingly good." Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Ingredients and method:

1 lb. fresh beet greens (or turnip tops, or chard)

1 egg

¼ cup fine bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

½ teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon butter

variation: add ½ cup mashed cooked garbanzo or white beans.

Wash and de-rib greens. Boil in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, then drain and chop fine. Combine with other ingredients. Form into 3-inch patties with your hands and fry gently in oil and butter. Turn once, frying for a total of about 5 minutes.


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