Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale

September 10, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

The recipe calls for giant beans, because flipping them is easier, and you get more creamy to crusty. Swanson uses beautiful corona beans from Rancho Gordo; I used a bag of dried limas, the only large beans I could find at the unpleasant grocery store nearby; you can use whatever you pull out of your pantry, even smaller cannellini or chickpeas, if that's all you've got -- even canned. Sure, home-cooked beans will keep their integrity and make this the best it can be. But this method is the simplest and most effective way to make canned beans taste better. Adapted slightly from 101cookbooks.com.

Genius Recipes

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min


  • 1/2 bunch (6 ounces / 170 grams) dinosaur kale or lacinato kale, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 handfuls to 3 big handfuls of cooked large white beans (like coronas, limas, or gigante beans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces / 45 grams) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1/3 cup (1/2 ounce / 15 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. Chop the kale, wash it, and shake off as much water as you can. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you own. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans, then let them sit long enough to brown lightly on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside.
  3. Add the kale and salt to the pan and cook for less than a minute, just long enough for the kale to lose a bit of its structure. Stir in the walnuts and garlic, wait 10 seconds, then stir in the nutmeg. Wait ten seconds and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat and serve dusted with Parmesan cheese.

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Reviews (41) Questions (0)

41 Reviews

Carroll N. January 20, 2019
I just saw this recipe today and had to try it. I did not have any beans cooked and used an inexpensive can of large butter beans and it turned out just fabulous! This made it so easy and quick, but my dish did not look quite as pretty as the picture. I am going to try some dried beans in the future.
Christine C. November 28, 2018
I have made Giant White Beans with Kale at least 4 times (or 5 or 6) and love it, obviously. In fact, this recipe is the one that inspired me to order beans from Rancho Gordo and ultimately become a member of their bean club. I had to wait for an opening! We live in Leadville, CO (elev. 10,200') and the only way I can ensure that beans are tender is to pressure-cook them. So I did that, plus some additional simmer time. I followed the recipe exactly except this last time, I drizzled olive oil over the beans on each plate before serving. I love the flavor and texture of the Corona beans, but the olive oil gives it a bit of extra moisture for those who aren't as smitten by huge, meaty beans as I am. <br /><br />It is also excellent for next-day lunch. This is such a keeper that it should be engraved in stone!
food52fan October 16, 2018
YUM! Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious and satisfying. Followed the recipe except for a small splash of vegetable broth. I was hesitant about adding the nutmeg as sometimes I feel it can overpower a dish, but it was just perfect here! The lemon really brightened the flavors, too. Thanks for a great recipe that is quick, easy, and nutritious!
JD September 16, 2018
The website in the author's notes should be corrected to 101cookbooks.com
Kristen M. September 16, 2018
Thank you for noticing! This is fixed.
richbusywoman July 20, 2018
Wondering how this would do if made and then frozen for later eating? All comments welcome!
robin L. July 20, 2018
...Unfortunately, I think it would be soggy, not crispy, if you froze it.
Theresa November 1, 2018
i cook up a big batch of the beans, freeze them in portion sizes, thaw and use them in the recipe. Yummy!
robin L. July 18, 2018
Rancho Gordo Royal Coronas work the best here. And the original recipe in Heidi's first cookbook doesn't call for walnuts, lemon, zest, or nutmeg, which makes this an even simpler dish (and also SO good).
Craig D. October 26, 2017
It is very important to boil the beans after soaking overnight. VERY.
Craig D. October 2, 2017
The recipe calls for large 'cooked beans' How are the beans to be prepared? cokked in what way. <br /><br />Please respond to [email protected]
Adrienne October 2, 2017
They should be soaked overnight and then simmered or you can try a slow cooker method. I had great lucked with canned beans. I didn't write this recipe, but love it! <br /><br />I think the bit about the beans was towards the bottom of the author's notes.
Alma M. August 20, 2017
This recipe--as directed or with any number of substitutions--is a staple for me. Definitely a genius way to get leafy greens.
Adrienne March 21, 2016
This is such a deceptively simple dish and can be adapted in so many ways to help clean out the pantry. Mine barely lasted a day before being gobbled up.
jennifer December 28, 2015
When I first glanced at this, I thought it was Kale with gnocchi. While I love beans, especially those from Rancho Gordo, I was a little disappointed to find that my assumption was wrong. Once I got gnocchi in my head, it was I craved. Since I had some homemade lemon ricotta gnocchi in the freezer, I decided to go ahead and fulfill my dream. I can't say how this recipe tastes with beans, but it was fantastic with pan fried lemon ricotta gnocchi (a la steamykitchen) - though I'm thinking hazelnuts might be a better compliment for this variation..
ariel A. November 10, 2015
Man oh man this was delicious
Kendra September 6, 2015
This recipe is ridiculously good! Making it right now... Again! I have also used chickpeas when I have no large white ones.
Jennifer D. August 23, 2015
Made this for dinner tonight with toasted baguette slices and a fried egg. It was delish! I subbed pecans for the walnuts because I am allergic but otherwise made it as written. I used home cooked Royal Coronas from Rancho Gordo. This will be a go-to for easy dinners from now on.
Courtney C. August 11, 2015
This is so good. I typically skip the nutmeg and add crushed red pepper. My favorite way to eat this is over a slice of really good bread with a fried egg on top. An awesome and easy dinner.
Kendra August 5, 2015
Just made this using canned chickpeas. Delicious!!!! Will be making again!
em-i-lis July 29, 2015
I made this last night and though it needed some additional liquid (I added chicken broth) to keep the kale and beans from drying out, we liked it quite a bit. I used dried butter beans that I'd soaked overnight and then cooked until tender. Delicious!
Khateriaa June 15, 2015
Just made this with canned beans and swapped walnuts for pine nuts (that's what I had) and it is fantastic.
phillygal June 1, 2015
My family has been making this sort of greens/beans dish forever (sans walnuts)...it's classic Italian and always delicious.
Tim N. April 20, 2015
Rancho Gordo is an excellent source for beans you won't find in local stores, very happy with everything about them