White Beans and Kale

by Feb 13, 2023

If you’re serious about good food you need to get serious about cooking beans. Not just any beans, but the best beans available and those come from Rancho Gordo. We are starting to see a selection around Bozeman, but I keep a stash on hand that I’m willing to sell—just reach out. The Marcella beans are cannellinis and they make the most delicious soups and one pan meals, like this classic combination, white beans and kale.

Simple dishes like these taste best when all the ingredients are top notch. Here that means home cooked cannellini beans, a good hunk of Parmesan (use a cheese plane to make large, flat slices or use a microplane for a fluffy cloud, or both!) and a couple bunches of good looking kale. A drizzle of your best olive oil, flake salt, and croutons made with a stale baguette make the meal. If you have the kale and the bandwidth, make a sheet pan of kale chips to go with. (350° 12 minutes or so; you can make the croutons at the same time.)

Recipe based on my 2008 version, updated with some tips I gleaned from a NY Times Cooking recipe—using herbs, garlic, and broth.

White Beans and Kale

Servings 4 people


  • 1 bunch kale, about 8 leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot or small onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled then minced and mashed with a pinch of salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary or thyme, leaves stripped from stem then chopped
  • 2 pinches dried red chile flake
  • 4 cups cannellini beans, cooked and drained (save the bean broth if using homemade)
  • 2 cups broth (from bean cooking, low sodium vegetable or chicken broth, or water)
  • lemon, halved for spritzing
  • Parmesan for sprinkling
  • good olive oil for drizzling
  • flake salt and freshly ground black pepper for finishing

Serve with baguette croutons or nice bread with a good crust and kale chips (the more kale the better!)


  1. Fill a large bowl with water, immerse kale leaves, swish them around then let sit a few minutes to separate any dirt from the leaves. Lift from water, shake off excess water and transfer to a cutting board. Tear out stalk, stack and roll leaves, and slice every 1/2-inch into long ribbons then a couple chops crosswise so pieces will be a manageable size on the fork.

  2. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan, add shallot/onion and cook a couple minutes to soften, stirring now and then. Add the garlic, chopped herbs, and chile flake and stir a minute or two until fragrant.

  3. Add damp kale leaves, beans, broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. The liquid will reduce as much as you desire. Remove from heat and spritz with lemon half.

  4. Serve with Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of flake salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

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