White Beans and Greens with Sausage
This white beans & greens bowl with sausage is a quick, satisfying meal with tons of flavor and nutrients. Perfect for busy weeknights!
Today I am sharing one of my favorite quick and easy main dish recipes: White Beans and Greens with Sausage!
We love this dish because it’s hearty and comforting, full of exciting flavors and textures, and it’s super simple to make.
Table of Contents
- What are beans and greens?
- What’s great about this recipe
- What does this beans and greens recipe taste like?
- Special equipment
- How to make escarole and beans with sausage
- How to serve this white beans recipe
- Expert tips
- Frequently asked questions
- A few more of my favorite Italian recipes
What are beans and greens?
People have been enjoying beans and greens recipes forever. They’re satisfying, full of healthy nutrition and fiber, and they taste great!
In this recipe, we’re using white beans (aka: canellini beans or great northern beans) and escarole, which is a mild tasting leafy green similar to lettuce.
We’re also adding cooked sausage for extra protein and texture, plus some flavorful seasonings that really up the “yum factor.”
I also like to add a little pasta as well, but that’s totally optional!
What’s great about this recipe
- Tastes amazing: There’s so much going on here! Garlicky, a little spicy, and woodsy from the rosemary, plus a hit of tangy balsamic and savory parmesan cheese.
- Few ingredients: You only need a handful of basics to make it.
- Easy to make: The whole thing comes together in 20 minutes or less, in just one pan!
- Versatile: This will work with just about any type of leafy green you can dream up!
What does this beans and greens recipe taste like?
There’s a whole lotta flavor in this dish!
Sweet Italian sausage is generously seasoned with all sorts of herbs and spices, to begin with.
But we are adding even more crushed red pepper, plus a hit of woodsy rosemary and a drizzle of tangy balsamic glaze. There’s also the nutty savoriness that parmigiano reggiano adds to the mix.
All of these robust flavors compliment the creamy white beans and fresh greens in the most delicious way!
I like extra-virgin olive oil best here. It really enhances all the Italian flavors.
You’ll need a bit to grease the pan, but I also like an additional drizzle on top, just before serving.
Sweet Italian sausage is my preference, but hot Italian sausage would work well too, if you like things a little spicier.
Look for bulk sausage if you can find it. If not, links will work too. You can either cut them into slices or slash them vertically and remove the ground meat from its casing.
We are going to add fresh, minced rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes to season this dish.
Be sure to mince the rosemary as finely as possible. Nobody wants to bite down on a resin-y, soapy rosemary leaf.
Canned white beans are a great timesaver! Drain them and rinse them in cool water first.
I’ve used escarole here, but you could swap in just about any kind of leafy greens. Here are a few suggestions:
- Broccoli rabe
- Mustard greens
Just to name a few!
Balsamic glaze is thick, syrupy, and a little sweet, with a complex tangy note. It’s a perfect topping for the creamy, mild flavors of white beans and greens.
I always have a big hunk of parmigiano reggiano in my fridge, so that’s my go-to.
But pecorino romano would be really good too, as would ricotta salata.
How to make escarole and beans with sausage
This recipe comes together in just 2 simple steps.
Step 1: Brown the sausage and seasonings
Get your skillet on the burner and preheat it over a medium flame.
Then add the olive oil, and when it starts to shimmer, add the sausage, rosemary, and crushed red pepper.
Mash everything together with your spatula, and cook it until the sausage is crumbly, brown, and crusty.
Step 2: Add the beans and greens
Toss your drained, rinsed beans in, and tear the escarole into bite sized pieces and throw that in as well.
At this point it’s just a matter of warming everything through.
Stir everything around until it’s piping hot.
The escarole should wilt slightly. You can cook it to your own taste but I like it to have a little bit of texture left in it.
And that’s about all there is to it!
How to serve this white beans recipe
Once it’s all heated through, spoon the mixture into serving bowls.
I like to have it over some cooked ditalini pasta, but you can leave that out if you like.
Then, give it a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a handful of parm. And a generous glug of olive oil for added richness.
And if you really want to make things special, tuck a couple of garlic knots on the side!
Brown the sausage well: For the best possible flavor, allow the sausage to really get a nice, brown crust on it. That means don’t stir it too often. Allow it to caramelize in the hot oil for several minutes at a time, before moving it around the pan or turning it.
Make it sauce-y: If you plan to serve this dish over pasta (like I’ve done) reserve a little of the cooking water to add to the skillet. This starchy liquid will help the white beans and greens to make a kind of “sauce.”
Mash it: Sometimes I’ll also mash some of the beans with a fork, to get even more different textures going.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! And if you do that, you’ll have a really satisfying meatless meal.
It’s also gluten-free if you leave out the pasta, and dairy-free and vegan if you leave out the cheese or use a plant-based substitute.
Any kind of beans will work here. I chose to use white beans because they’re traditional in a lot of Italian recipes.
Feel free to swap in whatever you have on hand!
If you don’t mind a bit of heat, add in a pinch or two of cayenne, or increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes to your taste.
You could also use hot Italian sausage instead of sweet.
The whole glorious mess can be cooked an hour or two ahead of time, and kept in the skillet with a lid on top so it doesn’t dry out.
When you’re ready to serve it up, just reheat it over low heat until it’s warmed through.
Wrap up any leftovers nice and tight and stash them in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for a few weeks.
Thaw in the fridge, and reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over low heat until warmed through.
This recipe serves 4 people as a main dish.
The nutritional info in the recipe card below reflects a serving size of 1/4 the whole batch.
It does include the pasta, balsamic glaze, and parmesan cheese, but not the extra drizzle of olive oil.
A few more of my favorite Italian recipes
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White Beans and Greens with Sausage
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
- 1 pound (453.59 g) sweet Italian sausage
- 2 teaspoons (0.2 g) rosemary, fresh, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) crushed red pepper flakes
- 15.5 ounces (439.42 g) canned white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 head (450 g) escarole, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) ditalini, cooked
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) balsamic glaze, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons (10 g) parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame until it shimmers.
- Add the sausage, rosemary, and crushed red pepper, breaking up the meat and allowing it to cook until browned and crusty (approx. 5 to 8 minutes).
- Fold in the beans and escarole, and continue to cook until the greens have wilted (approx. 3 to 5 minutes).
- Serve over cooked ditalini pasta, and garnish with olive oil, balsamic glaze, and parmesan.