Pan-Fried White Beans with Greens

April 20, 2011

Yesterday, the forecast was for snow in Minneapolis. As I’m typing this we’ve dodged that particular bullet but I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to hear such rumours after the couple of weeks of sunshine we had earlier this month. The winter coat had been left swinging lonely and dark on its hook, winter snow boots were replaced with delicate flats, and I started walking down to the lake on my lunch breaks with a sandwich in my hand. The change in weather makes me want to scream at the sky, “It’s almost bloody May!

What I’m trying to do instead is not let it get to me (harder than you’d think) and reminding myself that it will be here soon. Spring will arrive.

If you’re trying to channel spring – or if it’s long since arrived in your neck of the woods – here is one of my favourite new spring recipes to enjoy as the sun peeks its head out from behind the clouds.

This dish is both healthy and filling. It’s full of zing (hello lemon zest and nutmeg) and a satisfying crunch. Perfect as a side dish or a main. We’ve had it several times now, and it just keeps getting better as I tweak it.

You could use all sorts of greens: collard, chard, spinach, arugula {rocket}, kale. Anything sturdy and dark green. Ooh and don’t skimp on the lemon, nutmeg, and other seasonings – they’re what make this dish so poppy and fresh!

Pan-Fried White Beans with Greens
adapted from 101 Cookbooks


  • 1/2 bunch collard greens or kale, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 – 3 big handfuls of cooked cannelini white beans (I highly recommend using dried beans here – the taste is dramatically better)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • scant 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • zest of one small/medium lemon (if it’s larger, you’ll probably want to use less as the flavour is quite prevalent and can dominate)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Finely chop the collard greens, wash it, and shake off as much water as you can. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you own. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside.
  3. Add the collard greens and salt to the pan and cook for less than a minute, just long enough for the greens to lose a bit of their structure. Stir in the walnuts and garlic, wait 10 seconds, then stir in the nutmeg. Wait ten seconds and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat, check seasoning – add salt and pepper – and serve.

Serves 2 – 4.

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