Winter Greens

Beans and Greens Are the Perfect Winter Meal

Italian Americans lay claim to this dish, but there’s a version of it across cultures

Mark Bittman
Published in
2 min readDec 11, 2019
Photo by Johnny Fogg

Italian Americans in Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, and parts of the Rust Belt lay claim to scarola e fagioli, traditionally made with cannellini beans and escarole, but you can find the dish across cultures. I never tire of the combination, especially because there are so many possible variations.

Add the greens after the beans are almost done so the beans are creamy and the greens silky without disintegrating. Start with cooked or canned beans here if you prefer; cook them with the greens, chop the onion, and omit the bay leaf and clove.

Other beans you can use: any white or ivory bean, including soybeans. Other greens you can use: escarole, romaine, any cabbage, mustard or turnip greens, kale or collards, spinach, bok choy, arugula, watercress.

Beans and Greens

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 1 to 2 ½ hours, depending on the bean


8 ounces dried white beans or chickpeas, washed, picked over, and soaked if you have time

1 medium onion, unpeeled

1 bay leaf

1 clove

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch (about 1 ½ pounds) broccoli raab or other greens, with no stem over ¼ inch thick, well washed and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs for garnish


Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cut a slit in the onion and insert the bay leaf; insert the clove and put the onion in the pot. Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently; cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally.

When the beans begin to soften (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the bean and whether you soaked them), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are tender but still intact (about as long as it took for them to begin to soften).

Add the greens and cook until they are tender, 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stems. If you want a soupy mixture, add more water.

Remove the onion. Taste and adjust the seasoning. About 3 minutes before serving, add the garlic and olive oil and stir. Spoon the beans and greens into individual bowls and garnish with the cheese and/or bread crumbs. Serve immediately.



Mark Bittman

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at