Cannellini beans with kale

Cannellini beans with kale

cannellini beans pot

Despite unseasonably warm temperatures this week, Spring isn’t here yet unfortunately. Never mind, I decided to make a perfect winter dish with just a hint of Spring thrown in as that’s the kind of mood I was in. I made a simple pot of cannellini beans flavoured with a generous amount of lemon and added copious amount of kale for some colour and health benefits.

These cannellini beans with kale are easy to make and they absolutely deliver on both comfort and flavour despite being rather good for you too. I made a big pot of it at the beginning of the week so that my fridge is stocked with healthy food and I can focus on other things – my driving test is coming up so I am throwing everything at it.

These simple cannellini beans require hardly any cooking and almost no kitchen skills at all. I used canned beans because it’s so easy but you can cook them yourself from dry too, of course. I seasoned the beans with some miso and lemon and thickened the sauce with a couple of tablespoons of tahini, but that’s completely optional.

If you don’t have tahini on hand, simply throw half a cup (60 g or so) of cashews nuts soaked in boiled water for 10-20 minutes into the blender alongside plant milk, miso and beans. Or skip this party completely – blending a can of beans with plant milk will contribute plenty of creaminess without the need for any added fat. If you are feeling fancy or extra hungry, you can pan-fry you favourite vegan sausages or marinated tofu and serve them alongside a bowl of beans and your favourite bread.


cannellini beans ingredients

CANNELLINI BEANS: Cannellini beans also known as white kidney beans are the key ingredient in this simple stew. I used three cans of beans, which equals 750 g (about 26 oz) of drained beans, but if you cook dry beans on a regular basis, you can use homecooked beans instead. If you don’t get on with cannellini beans, you can use a different type of legume like lima bean or chickpeas (garbanzos), either canned or homecooked.

AROMATICS: A medium onion and several garlic cloves give the base flavour to this simple dish. I sauté most of the garlic, but I save a small clove and blend it up together with a can of beans, miso and plant milk and add it all in at the end. It gives this stew another flavour boost, but if you are not as much of a garlic fan as I am, you are welcome to skip this raw garlic clove altogether. If you love garlic but are after a mellow garlic, you can add some roasted garlic cloves to the sauce instead to increase the depth of flavour. To bake garlic, cut the top of to expose the cloves (see photos below), drizzle the cloves with a little olive, wrap the whole thing in a piece of foil and bake at 200° C / 390° F for about 30 minutes – or until the cloves get or translucent and jammy. It’s an extra step though so only do that if you have the time and are putting the oven on for something else anyway.

cannellini beans baked garlic

To bake garlic, cut the top of to expose the cloves (see photos above), drizzle the cloves with a little olive, wrap the whole thing in a piece of foil and bake at 200° C / 390° F for about 30 minutes – or until the cloves get or translucent and jammy. It’s an extra step though so only do that if you have the time and are putting the oven on for something else anyway.

PLANT MILK: Plant milk helps to create a creamy sauce here, I chose to use soy milk as I like its plant protein content and the fact that it is naturally creamy, but any neutral plant milk will work well. Oat milk or almond milk would be my other suggestions.

OLIVE OIL: I use a bit of oil to sauté aromatics in although you could do that using veggie stock too (if you want to make it oil-free) and I drizzle the dish with a little more olive oil (or chilli oil of I feel like something spicy) at the end. You can use cooking olive oil for sautéeing but for drizzling I recommend extra virgin olive oil.

MISO PASTE: Miso paste is a delicious addition, although if you don’t have it in your pantry it’s not the end of the world. I used white miso (also known as shiro miso), it’s mild and mellow yet adds a great deal of flavour alongside some saltiness – so be mindful of that when seasoning. If making this dish for someone who cannot have gluten, be sure to source miso paste that isn’t based on wheat. These days you can get miso based on chickpeas, rice or quinoa, for example.

TAHINI: If you like your bean stews creamy, a couple of tablespoons of tahini are a brilliant addition. Tahini naturally belongs here (think hummus) but if you want the creaminess but do not have a jar of tahini on hand, simply soak half a cup of cashews or sunflower seeds in boiling water for 10-20 minutes, drain and blend with other ingredients in step three.

LEMON: I love how lemon gives dishes such an instant boost and I tend to like a lot of lemon so be sure you use as much as you like. I used strips of unwaxed lemon in the sauce (you can also use zest but the strips are quicker) and added a good squeeze of lemon juice at the very end. Go easy – start with one tablespoon – and increase the amount to your taste if needed. Aside from the taste, lemon also helps to absorb all the goodness that kale brings to the table so make sure to use some.

KALE: Dark leafy greens are such nutritional powerhouses and your body really needs them to thrive. I used cavolo nero in this simple stew and I find it really delicious, it goes so well with the flavours of lemon and tahini. The key is remove though stems and to not overcook the leaves. Three minutes of simmering is usually enough to make them tender so throw the kale in at the very last minute before serving. If you overcook them, they become though and chewy.

cannellini beans aromatics

Sauté finely diced onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until softened and fragrant. Add thyme leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper, followed by drained beans from two cans.

cannellini beans sauce

Next add in half of the plant milk and lemon rind. Simmer it gently while you blend the rest of the plant milk with the last can of beans with miso paste, last garlic clove and tahini if using. Add blended beans to the pan, mix well, season with lemon and simmer until thickened. Add kale and simmer until just tender. Serve with fresh parsley, a drizzle of olive (or chilli) oil if liked and some crusty bread to mop up the sauce with.

cannellini beans kale

cannellini beans macro

10 min
20 min
10 min
20 min
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml extra virgin olive oil, more to drizzle
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced + 1 whole garlic* clove
  • 4-5 springs of thyme, leaves picked or ½ tsp dried Italian herbs
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 x 400 g / 14 oz cans of cannellini beans*
  • 360 ml / 1½ cup soy (or other) milk
  • 40 g / 2½ tbsp white miso paste
  • 30 g / 2 tbsp tahini paste (optional)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 150 g / 5.25 oz kale (I used cavolo nero)
  • chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)

    1. Heat up olive oil in a large frying pan that you have a lid for. Add diced onion and sauté until softened, then add garlic and thyme leaves. Sauté on low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant but not browned.
    2. Season with salt and pepper, then two cans of drained beans, half of the plant milk and a few strips of lemon rind (use a speed peeler) or zest some lemon (whole if you like strong lemon flavour, otherwise half) into the sauce.
    3. Place the last can of beans (drained) alongside the rest of the plant milk, peeled garlic clove (for extra garlicky taste, skip if you are not a fan), miso paste and tahini (if using, it will make the beans creamier). Blend until smooth.
    4. Add blended beans to the pan, simmer on low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until creamy and thickened.
    5. While the beans are simmering, destem kale leaves and chop them roughly. Add them to the simmering sauce, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 3 minutes until just cooked – take care not to overcook as it gets chewy.
    6. Season with more salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon to taste (I used half a lemon as I like lemony taste). If the stew thickened too much after kale has cooked, add a splash more plant milk to achieve the consistency you like.
    7. Divide between bowls. Top with a drizzle of olive oil (or chilli oil if you prefer) and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy with a slice of your favourite bread.

    *GARLIC – if you prefer a mellower taste of garlic, you can add some roasted garlic cloves blended into the beans. To roast a garlic head, cut the top off, drizzle exposed cloves with a teaspoon of olive oil, wrap the entire head in kitchen foil / baking parchment and roast at 200° C / 390° F for about 30 minutes.

    *CANNELLINI beans (aka white kidney beans): you can use dry beans instead of canned. You’ll need approximately 750 g / 26 oz of cooked beans as each can is about 240 g / 8.5 oz drained weight. Cook them in plenty of water, after an overnight soak, with a piece of kombu to make them easier to digest.

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    1 review, 5 comments
    This was so easy and quick to make but omg it was so tasty! I didn't have thyme leaves but I'm getting them for next time. Also I made a right choice using a big whole lemon cause I love lemony taste. I'll for sure make this again, can't wait! Amazing recipe.
      Yay, I am so pleased to hear that this dish was a winner with you, Dasa! I am the same when it comes to lemon - the dish has to have a bit of tang! And, as always, thank you for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. Ania
    All of our fav ingredients in one recipe? Thank you! I will use black-eyed peas instead of cannellini (have lots to use up) but otherwise can tell this will need no tweaking. Look forward to making it for the coming work week. Thanks, again.
      Thank you Gina, I really hope this dish will hit the spot! The only thing I would say is that cannellini beans are creamier than black-eyed peas so the texture will be a little different but just as nice, I am sure. Ania
    Hello Ania
    thank you for another delicious looking recipe....I can't wait to try it.
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the recipes you create. I am always referring to your website. I love the cooking notes, it makes it easy to make substitutions when needed. You are a life saver when I am lacking inspiration.
    please keep the recipes coming!!
      Aw thank you so much for your kind words, Lisa - that really means a lot to me! I hope you'll enjoy this recipe just as much. Ania
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