Cannellini Beans with Turnip Greens

Beans beans the musical fruit

Cannellini beans have an excellent earthy flavor and work well served with roast meats as well as hearty sauces. They can also make an excellent vegetarian main course. Their intense flavor helps make up for their higher cost. I usually wait until they go on sale and then bulk up. A half pound will serve about four as a side.

This recipe uses turnip greens, but they can be substituted with spinach. Just add the raw spinach at the last moment before straining. Cannellini beans are very thick skinned and take a long time to soak, at least overnight. A ham hock could also be added at the start if this were to be a main course.

Cannellini Beans with Turnip Greens

  • 1 lb cannellini beans
  • 1 bunch turnip greens
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lemon (zested, juice reserved)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt/pepper
  • Olive oil

Wash and soak beans in cold water overnight. Wash turnip greens, discard the stems and ribs, and chop roughly. Finely dice the white parts of the leeks. Chop the green parts of the leeks, slightly larger. Heat two tablespoons butter in a large stock pot and saute the white parts of the leeks until softened. Add turnip greens and saute until wilted. Strain beans, discarding soaking liquid, and add to pot. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Add stock, green part of the leeks and zest entire lemon into pot. Bring to a boil then simmer on medium low until beans are soft adding more stock or water to keep the liquid level up, about 1 ½ hours. Strain beans reserving a cup of cooking liquid. Season beans with parsley, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Mix well. Add lemon juice, olive oil and reserved cooking liquid to taste. Serve hot.

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About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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62 Responses to Cannellini Beans with Turnip Greens

  1. nrhatch says:

    Beans and greens = perfect together.
    Pass the jalapeno cornbread, please. ;)

  2. TasteFood says:

    This sounds so healthy and satisfying – yum.

  3. JamieAnne says:

    Looks wonderful. I think I’m going to soak some beans tonight. Thanks for the motivation.

  4. k.m. says:

    Looks delicious! I like both turnip greens and cannellini beans but I’ve never tried them together.

  5. Erin Renee says:

    You guys are reading my mind! I’ve got a recipe with spinach and cannellini beans up for dinner next week. This one looks yummy too. I’ll put this on the list next.

  6. A_Boleyn says:

    I’m having some problems with the recipe directions.

    Do you only use the white parts of the leeks or the green part as well because I’m confused about this sentence in the recipe. ‘Chop the green parts, slightly larger. ‘ which follows the directions to dice the white part of the leek finely. Are you referring to the turnip greens here or to the leek green cause you’re chopping the turnip greens roughly and then later, chopping other greens ‘slightly larger’ which I’m assuming is the LEEK greens. But then there’s no step where you are sauteing or adding the LEEK greens to the pot.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. It should be fixed now. You add the green part of the leeks with the beans.

      • A_Boleyn says:

        I’ve never cooked with leeks, never even bought them, but I see them used in recipes on the Food Network Canada quite often. Do you cook the white parts of the leek because of their similarity to onions so sauteing them brings out the sweet flavour as they brown? (Sorry for all the annoying technical questions.)

        I love bean dishes and recently commented on an Ecuadoran bean soup/stew on Kristy’s blog so I won’t repeat my family stories again. :) My poor mother though has been eating beans for so often lately that she doesn’t like to see them on the menu. It’s one of the few dishes my father knew how to cook so for the last 2 yrs, since she had to stop cooking due to her health, that’s what she had been served almost 5 days a week. So I only serve beans a couple of times a month now.

        At my house, we use navy and Great Northern beans quite interchangeably since they’re so easy to find. However, dried cannellini beans have to be bought at the specialty Italian grocery store for a pretty penny. My dad had been growing them in my back garden for a number of years and I discovered a stash recently which I’m am going through slowly, mostly in bean soup with smoked pork hocks or ham. They stay intact during the cooking process, even when fully cooked, unlike the other 2 white beans which break down I’ve found, so if you like a creamier broth you actually have to mash them down. However, I have a dried cod/ mashed bean pie topped with caramelized onions that I have been saving for the cold weather destined for at least part of my stash.

      • They are a treat. I think they’re about $2.70 a pound here, but compared to meat if you serve them as a main dish. You saute the leeks to soften them and bring out the flavor. Definitely give hem a try.

  7. Carolyn Chan says:

    A hearty meal ! Love the suggestion of the ham hock.

  8. I love spinach but no one is taking away my turnip greens lol. And seriously, you are becoming more southern than I expected with the use of a hamhock. Okay I am not going to think of you as a non-southern soul family anymore lol. Oh and I did invite you and Katherine to family dinner whenever you want lol :)

  9. Now that is a delicious dish which is going to feature chez nous very soon. Excellent

  10. Aah, the simple things in life are always the best.
    Have a happy weekend. :-) Mandy

  11. Zo Zhou says:

    Yum, love cannellini beans and love radish/turnip greens, but never thought to put them together. Actually I can imagine they’d taste wonderful – potato and radish top soup is pretty amazin after all.

  12. Oh yum, what a simple but beautiful recipe! I love these beans but have always been slightly afraid of cooking them. I love the simplicity of your recipe though, thanks a lot and will definitely think about giving it a go.

  13. rutheh says:

    My repertoire is so limited. I realize as I follow your blog and read the recipes for such a wide variety of dishes. I have to admit I have never bought or cooked turnip greens. I do love beans and greens, though, so need to expand my cuisine. Your photos are inspirational!

  14. Lovely hearty comfort food with lots of flavour! We bought back lots of Fabas Asturianas from our recent trip – they´re very much like cannellini beans so we could make a version of this easily.

  15. Sissi says:

    So this is the way I should use “cime di rapa”! I keep on seeing it on my market for several years and somehow lack courage to buy and try it out (they sell only huge bunches). I didn’t know that, once cooked, they might make such a fantastic looking dish! (I haven’t seen dried cannellini here, but the canned ones cost the equivalent of a bottle of water ;-) ) Thanks for the wonderful idea!

  16. This looks great! I love finding new ways to enjoy Cannellini beans – they’re so tasty.

  17. As we live a couple of towns over from one of the largest Portugese-American communities in the country, I make this with Kale instead of turnip greens. And some sausage for the Hubby…

  18. Kelly says:

    What a great recipe; you have so many delicious flavours and ingredients going on here. I personally love the musical fruit!

  19. Healthy and delicious! It also rhymes so well-beans & greens!

  20. egg me on says:

    Nice! Now I know what I can do with those cannellini beans in the pantry.

  21. Kevin Wray says:

    Never had Cannellini beans. Will have to try it some time soon, especially with the cooler temps.

  22. Judy says:

    Just made a pot of Cannellini beans yesterday, they have become my favorite! Not always easy to find, so I was pleased to see Whole Foods now carries them in their bulk foods section. I usually add onion, but I like your idea of adding leeks, mmm.

  23. spicegirlfla says:

    Yummm.. this would be a meal in itself for me with the healthy greens! And using the leeks is a great idea for a gentle flavor…. nice fall dish!

  24. Mmm definitely gonna make this soon! Maybe using beet greens the next time I get them in my box!

  25. niasunset says:

    WOW! Another delicious recipe and photograph.

    http://photographyofnia.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/so-exciting-to-have-an-award/

    Thank you dear Rufus, Have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

  26. I love cannellini beans, hearty, healthy and delicious! This is my go to vegetarian meal when I’m lazy to cook for myself!

  27. Kristy says:

    Beans, beans good for your…there I go again. I haven’t tried cannellini beans before. Since I’m trying to expand my bean repertoire I may have to add these to the list. :)

  28. Kristy says:

    By the way – we made your stuffed eggplant this week. Delicious!!!! :)

  29. We just received a tons of greens in our CSA and this recipe has given me some great ideas. Looks great and thanks for the inspiration.

  30. I love any kind of beans and this looks so good. It is raining and cool here today. A perfect recipe for a day like this. Have a good weekend.

  31. making this for my husband tomorrow night with ribs we are having. he loves beans and will love this

  32. ChgoJohn says:

    This is another great recipe. I definitely would keep the turnip greens — probably use more of them — and would follow your suggestion and add a ham hock. I really like adding one that’s smoked. I’ll be cooking this within the next few weeks. It’s perfect for Fall. Thanks.

  33. Caroline says:

    Oh how I adore cannellini beans. Chef Andy has a recipe using the beans with peppers and some other delicious ingredients that I can’t think of. I’ll have to recreate the dish soon. Wish I would have seen this recipe earlier! My mom bought leeks at the store the other week and couldn’t figure out what she wanted to use them for. This would have been perfect!

  34. This looks deeelicious Greg! Autumn is crrtaily the time for beans and stews. We’ve made a split pea soup for dinner tonight at the cottage.

  35. Leeks and cannellini beans are a match made in heaven. I could just eat the whole lot with a spoon but I never remember to soak beans. I have a cupboard full of dried legumes that I hardly ever use because I always decide what I want to eat about an hour before I want to eat it. Need to be more organised!!

  36. My sister (Chunklet’s mom) loves cannellini beans, so this dish would be right up her alley!

  37. Michelle says:

    You guys are putting us to shame! Such energy (says one who is on vacation). Cannellini are good with any greens, I think, especially bitter ones. Don’t you?

  38. A_Boleyn says:

    I’ve saved the recipe to my ever expanding folder of recipes you’re inspiring me to try. Right now I’m soaking salted cod (and tonight will soak white beans) to make a traditional Yugoslavian/Romanian mashed bean over cod casserole dish tomorrow. Thank you. :)

  39. Joanne says:

    Cannellini beans are my FAVORITE!!! They are so buttery creamy delicious!!! I bet the slightly bitter turnip greens work really well here.

  40. sonsothunder says:

    Sounds great…from the picture, I would have to add more turnip greens for my personal liking, but, it is definitely on my Rolodex ..

    Thanks
    paul

  41. nancyc says:

    That sounds like a really healthy recipe and I like Cannellini beans!

  42. ambrosiana says:

    I love fagioli cannellini!! These are widely used in Tuscany, and usually they are a side dish for Steak Fiorentina!! I love this version with turnip greens!

  43. spiderpaw says:

    As fall approaches, this seems like the ultimate dish to have after a long hike.

  44. Charles says:

    Beans are awesome – you know what is more awesome? More beans! With turnip greens (hey, that rhymes!). Not sure if I have cannelini beans here right now – I remember bringing back like 6 assorted sacks of beans from my summer trip to England. Need to go check out if cannelini were there. I know I bought something called “Black Turtle Beans” – looking forward to trying that :D

  45. I love the lemon zest and oregano in this..they must add so much freshness

  46. Nice recipe. I have some beet greens in the fridge, maybe I could try it with those. It could be fun to have pink beans for dinner!

  47. ....RaeDi says:

    What a wonderful mix! ….RaeDi

  48. How much are canelini beans in the US? I’ve never thought of them as overly expensive. This looks like a perfect summer dinner side :)

  49. Pingback: Sunday Suppers: A Hill of Beans | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

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