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If it’s a cold-weather, feel-good meal you want, Pantry Beans and Greens is everything you need. This hearty yet healthy dish is both easy on your wallet and incredibly easy to pull together. But don’t be fooled—just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not one of the most satisfying meals you’ll eat this winter. (It is.) And the best part is, while this pantry meal is delicious as is, it’s also endlessly customizable. Swap in a different, heartier green if you like; ditch the Parmesan to make it vegan; add bacon or ground meat to bulk up the protein; transform it into a pasta or soup—it’s really up to you. Enjoy the base recipe and then try changing it up with one of the variations written below. 

Recipe by MyRecipes


Credit: Caroline Arcangeli; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Karen Rankin

Recipe Summary

15 mins
35 mins
Makes 4 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Add olive oil to a deep, 10-inch skillet.

  • Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and black pepper to skillet; place over medium heat. (This will heat oil slowly, and allow garlic to bloom without burning.) Once garlic is sizzling, cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and fragrant, but isn’t browning, about 1 minute, 30 seconds.

  • Add vinegar to skillet, and stir. Cook until slightly thickened and reduced, about 1 minute.

  • Add beans; cook, stirring once or twice, until beans start to brown in places, about 5 minutes. Stir in water and salt.

  • Increase heat to medium-high until boiling; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until beans are very tender, about 5 more minutes.

  • Reduce heat to medium-low, and add spinach by the handful, letting it wilt slightly before adding the next handful. Cook, stirring gently, until spinach is fully wilted and incorporated into bean mixture. Stir in Parmesan; remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice.

Chef's Notes


ADD PASTA: Cook 6 ounces of pasta according to package instructions in heavily salted water. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water; use cooking water in place of water and salt in step 4. Add cooked pasta right before adding greens.

ADD SAUSAGE OR OTHER GROUND MEAT: Instep 1, reduce amount of olive oil to 1 tablespoon. Cook 6 ounces Italian sausage, or any other ground meat (such as ground pork, lamb or beef) over medium heat, stirring to crumble, until deeply golden brown, about 11 minutes. Proceed to step 2.

ADD BACON OR PANCETTA: Cut 2 pieces of thick-cut bacon into batons, or use 4 to 6 ounces diced pancetta. In step 1, reduce amount of olive oil to 1 tablespoon, and cook bacon or pancetta until deeply golden brown, about 8 minutes. Proceed to step 2.

USE A HEARTIER GREEN: Start with 1 bunch Tuscan kale, chard, collards, or broccolini rabe. Strip leaves off tough stalk, and tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice stalks. Add sliced stalks when adding beans. Add leaves in place of spinach, and allow another 1 to 2 minutes cooking time.

MAKE INTO SOUP: Double amount of liquid and salt. You can also substitute in homemade or store-bought chicken stock. (If you’re using homemade, make sure that it is on the salty side, as the liquid here is the seasoning agent for the whole dish.)