Braised Escarole with Cannellini Beans

Serve this traditional Italian dish as an amazing salad to start a meal or as a wonderful side dish.  The warmth and flavor combination of this amazing dish is particularly good on a cold winter’s day or night.   Nourishment for the body and soul.  So good.

Cannellini Beans soaking
Cannellini Beans soaking
Slow cooking the beans, pancetta and veggies
Slow cooking the beans, pancetta and veggies
A white bowl of Braised Escarole with Cannellini Beans

Braised Escarole with Cannellini Beans

This braised escarole with Cannellini beans (or Great Northern) slow cooks for a couple hours...and is so heart warming. A classic Italian dish...perfect for a starter salad or a wonderful side dish.
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Course: Italian
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Cannellini beans, Escarole
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 10


  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans or Great Northern beans
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions cut into quarters
  • 2 carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 cloves garlic 4 left whole for cooking with the beans, 4 minced for sauteing the escarole
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces pancetta chopped
  • 2 heads escarole washed, dried, and torn into roughly 1 to 2 inch pieces
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes preferably San Marzano...removed from juice and roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Rinse the beans under cold running water..
  • Place the beans in a large bowl, add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches.
  • Let stand at room temperature overnight.
  • In a large Dutch oven (or heavy duty pot), combine the drained beans, the stock, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil
  • Add enough cold water to cover the beans by about 1 1/2 inches.
  • Add the onions, carrots, whole garlic cloves and sage.
  • Bring to a boil, and then reduce to low, partially cover.
  • Simmer until the beans are very tender, about 2 hours.
  • Remove the onions, garlic cloves, and sage. Discard.
  • About 30 minutes before the beans are done, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and pancetta. Saute for about 1 minute.
  • Add the escarole and saute until the leaves begin to wilt, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have softened and the mixture is reduced to about 1/3 - about 8 minutes.
  • When the beans are finished, add the escarole mixture and stir.
  • Break up some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon, to thicken slightly.
  • Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper (taste as you add).
  • Serve immediately, passing the olive oil.
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