These Days, I'm All About Beans and Greens

Fun to say, even more delicious to eat.

Beans and greens. Beans and greens. On days when I'm too busy to form a single cogent thought about what's for dinner, I can still hang on to one simple phrase: Beans and—you guessed it—greens.

At its simplest, it guarantees reliable sustenance. I usually have a container of home-cooked beans in my fridge (and if not, there's always a can of beans in my pantry). As for the greens, they can be anything: Collards, kale, chard, cabbage, escarole... even ye olde spinach. And if I have my beans and my greens covered, I can rest easy, because dinner is just a few moves away. Here's how this ditty goes:

Smokey beans and greens
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

Saute Your Aromatics and Greens

Of course, you have to start with an onion. Slice it up and saute in olive oil until wilted, and then add in your garlic and risk your friends' disapproval by tossing in a few sliced sun-dried tomatoes—they deliver a concentrated hit of umami. Add in your sliced greens, and cook just until wilted.

Add the Broth, Tomato Paste, and Seasonings

Now is the magical moment when a saute becomes a stew. Add vegetable broth (Better Than Bouillon or something similar works A-OK), smoked paprika, tomato paste, and salt and red-pepper flakes. Simmer to let everything get familiar and to tenderize those greens—your kitchen is probably smelling pretty delicious right about now.

Simmer the Beans, Then Dress to Impress

Since you've created this delicious broth, it's the perfect time to add your cooked beans to it and let them simmer a bit to absorb all that flavor. Ladle your beans and greens into shallow bowls, and top with shaved parm, a drizzle of olive oil, a fried egg, or all three—and don't forget the crispy bread on the side. Try this dish once, and you won't forget beans and greens, either.

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