Stewy White Beans with Escarole, Garlic, and Sizzled Rosemary

November 19, 2017
17 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Adapted from cookbook writer Molly Stevens by way of Orangette's Molly Wizenberg, this recipe starts with bitter escarole that's wilted in garlic-, chile-, and rosemary-infused oil. Once the greens have shrunken, you'll add the beans, the broth, and a cheese rind, cover the pot, and let all of the ingredients bubble away gently together. The escarole will turn silky and the beans creamy, all while steeping in the spices, herbs, and alliums. In just a few minutes, you've changed the simplest pot of vegetables and legumes into an extremely comforting, outright addictive meal. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • 1 medium head escarole, about 1 pound (or substitute curly kale or mustard greens)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large sprig rosemary, plus more for frying (optional)
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol (or substitute ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Salt, for seasoning
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • Rind of Parmesan, Grana Padano, or pecorino (optional)
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • Any of the above cheeses, for garnishing
  • Canola oil, for frying (optional)
  1. Cut the head of escarole in half lengthwise, then cut each length crosswise, into 1 1/2-inch strips. Place in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Use your hands to swish the leaves around, loosening up the dirt. Let the escarole sit undisturbed for 5 or so minutes so that the soot settles to the bottom. Lift the escarole out of the bowl, then repeat the washing process. (Escarole is very dirty—washing it twice is critical.) Don’t worry if the leaves are still a little wet. (If you’re using kale or mustard greens, clean and remove the center ribs. Then give the leaves a rough chop.)
  2. In a large Dutch oven with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat, Once hot, add the rosemary sprig and the chiles de arbol. Let sizzle for about 1 minute, then turn the heat to medium and add the garlic. Stir until it’s soft and golden on the edges.
  3. Add the escarole a handful at a time. Stir it and let it wilt before adding the next handful and season with salt as you throw in each new addition.
  4. When all the escarole has wilted, add the beans, the stock, and the cheese rind (if using), season with more salt, and stir to mix everything together.
  5. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover, lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer, and cook until the greens are tender and the liquid has thickened, about 20 minutes. (If you don’t want the dish to be soupy, you can remove the lid and simmer it for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced.)
  6. Before serving, season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish with grated cheese and a swirl of olive oil. Serve over slices of toasted sourdough, polenta, or al dente ditalini.
  7. Optional: If you’d like to add a bit of flair, garnish with a fried rosemary sprig. Heat about an inch of canola oil in a high-sided pan. When it’s shimmering (about 375° F), add the rosemary sprigs. Fry for about 30 seconds, until crisp, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt while warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
  • Lara Chan-Baker
    Lara Chan-Baker
  • Cheryl
  • Ericka Barbara
    Ericka Barbara

30 Reviews

Quinn October 12, 2022
Loved it. Had to use up some hot Italian sausage, worked great, but I bet equally good without it. Didn’t have time for dried beans so cans it was. No salt with escarole, missed that in the instructions! Didn’t miss it (because of sausage?).
Ryan M. February 18, 2020
This is a nearly perfect recipe. Perfected by Rancho Gordo's Alubia Blanco beans, which have become our house bean. Used Aleppo instead of the Arbol, no other variations.
A simple and perfect almost-non-recipe. Great work!
Smaug February 17, 2020
As far as I can tell, the chilis and rosemary remain whole (though the rosemary will probably drop it's leaves)- can I assume they're to be fished out before serving?
Wildyam February 18, 2020
I use the plain old red pepper flakes and they work just fine. The rosemary needles do fall off the stems for the most part, and there is no need to fish them out, as they soften and just melt into the sauce. This dish has become a staple in our house!
Smaug October 13, 2022
You'll probably want to fish out the stems, however. I might consider using a pepper that would add something besides heat, maybe a Fresno or even chipotle powder- I'm not a fan of red pepper flakes.
Stephanie B. May 16, 2019
I went through the trouble of making this from dried beans, and it's totally worth it. I cooked the beans with onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, parm rind, and kombu (apparently it has an enzyme that makes the beans more digestible?). I cooked the beans until they had about 15-20min left until done. Then I sizzled the chiles, rosemary, and garlic, and wilted the greens as the recipe said, and dumped the beans and all their cooking liquid into the pot with the rosemary oil, and continued to follow the recipe. The cooking liquid from the beans was so flavorful I didn't even use chicken stock. I used mustard greens, and enjoyed the slight bitterness they have in this dish. This was such a simple, but flavorful and cosy meal. I served it with slices of sourdough, and it was the perfect thing to warm us up on a damp, chilly, grey evening. I think this will be a repeat!
Lynn February 11, 2019
I agree with Lara C., I don’t even bother with the salt until the end. But I do begin by sauteing 4 oz of diced pancetta, removing it from the pan to drain on a paper towel until I’m ready to sprinkle it on top at the end with a little shaved parm. Plenty of salt for us!
Lara C. February 11, 2019
Just made this for dinner and I can tell this is definitely going to become a staple base for my weeknight meals. So easy, so cheap, and so tasty.

I made it as outlined (using kale and chilli flakes) and it was fabulous. Only thing to watch out for is the salt. Adding salt after every handful of kale (there were like 6 handfuls) and with the beans and again at the end, plus with salty stock, makes for a very salty meal. The lemon definitely helps to balance it, but if you're not having it with something blander/creamy (like polenta or mash) then you'll definitely want to ease up a bit here. You can always salt at the end if you feel it needs more :)

I fried up some sliced chorizo with rosemary and added it in to make it a full meal. SO GOOD!
Christine July 12, 2023
Believe it or not, meals can be complete without meat. Definitely still a full meal without chorizo.
Emily January 29, 2019
This soup is awesome. So so flavorful and impressive-- and simple! Will definitely be a winter staple for me.
Cheryl November 15, 2018
Delicious, easy and quick to make. I used 5 cloves garlic, vegan Parmesan and served this over toast. Will definitely make again--soon. Thank you!
Cheryl December 15, 2021
Next time I will use 2 heads of escarole and 3+ cups vegetable broth. Reminder to be very careful with too much salt.
Ericka B. March 28, 2018
I fudged the recipe a bit by doubling the chicken broth, using about a 1/2 pound of dried white beans instead of canned and throwing everything in the pot all at once. While the substitution of the dried beans increased the stove top time (about 3 hours), this was DELICIOUS. A wonderful creamy texture with hints of rosemary and lemon throughout the broth.

Next time I will have to follow the recipe and see if it turns out just as well!
Ericka B. March 28, 2018
Correction: I added 4x the amount of chicken broth and used a whole lemon that I quartered and threw into the pot with the rest of the ingredients.
E.R.M. March 18, 2018
Really delicious, with satisfying broth from the white bean liquid, vegetable stock, and oil. The chili arbol, parmesan rind, garlic, and lemon combine to create a great flavor. I couldn't find escarole at the supermarket so went with kale, and I actually can't imagine not doing it with kale in the future, but I'm sure it works well with escarole too.
Tawny March 10, 2018
Perfection! I know cheese makes everything better but even if I wasn't vegan, this doesn't even need cheese to make it so delicious! I served it over polenta. I cannot wait for the beans to pick up all the flavors for my meal tomorrow but, even 20 minutes after throwing together, the flavor tastes like it's been sitting and stewing for hours! I do use Better Than Bouillon seasoned vegetable base for my broth. My Whole Foods hasn't had escarole for years so I used baby spinach. And I used red pepper flakes. So delicious!!!
Lynn February 23, 2018
Wow, I made the recipe as written and it was amazing! But the version below with siracha powder and served over polenta sounds amazing! (More cheese is not a bad thing). Will give that one a try next time.
Deborah S. February 23, 2018
OMG this was So Good! I used kale out of the garden instead of escarole, siricha powder instead of the chiles, and cooked it a little longer (~45 min). I served it over polenta seasoned with rosemary and Parmesan, topped with a squirt of fresh lemon, Greek EV olive oil, and you guessed it--MORE CHEESE!! A perfect hearty warm comfort food for a cold winter night supper!!!
Liz C. February 6, 2018
I just made this and I want to make it again tomorrow. There were no left overs for my lunch! I used kale. I don't think I've ever seen escarole. I fried and sliced up 2 Portuguese garlic sausage because my family would grumble if there was no meat. We ate the whole batch between 3 of us but I didn't serve it with any carbs. I added more broth than was called for because I had it then I gave it a few whizzes with the hand blender to thicken the liquid. I just realized that I forgot the lemon so now I have to make it again!
Emily L. February 4, 2018
This is a wonderfully easy and versatile recipe. I subbed baby kale for escarole (it’s all i could find at my grocery store) and added it in right before serving. I couldn’t find the chiles called for so subbed aleppo pepper- it turned out great and made wonderful leftovers. Will definitely be making again!
cookinalong February 4, 2018
OK. Let me be a grumpy old fart here for a minute. Can't we be grown ups and call it White Bean Stew? I mean really, "stewy"? Likewise, could we all just agree to say "vegetables" instead of veggies?
Now on to other matters...This dish is also great with broccoli rabe if escarole or kale are not at hand.
E.R.M. March 18, 2018
Haah, I agree. Cute, shortened words in food writing is my pet peeve. Veg is even worse than veggies, imo. But at least getting past that, the recipe is delicious.
Lynn February 4, 2018
Anybody tried Baby Bok Choy?
Lou January 12, 2020
Two years too late.. but in case this helpful, I think bok choy works well in this stew. I've made it three times now, twice as written, and tonight with bok choy instead of escarole (a case of mistaken identity in the grocery store). Both versions are delicious. Bok choy is much easier to clean/prep (less dirt/bulk).
Becca (. January 31, 2018
OH man. I've made the Orangette version (with a variety of greens to different levels of success- the bitterness of the escarole really is perfect) a whole bunch of times, and this looks even better. Putting a Parmesan rind in is brilliant. I always end up adding a whole pile of Parmesan at the end but getting some of that goodness into the broth is inspired.
Clare G. January 15, 2018
This has become a staple recipe for me. I've added sausage to it to make it a bit heartier.
Jenny December 26, 2017
Just made this and am so excited to have this as a regular go-to this winter! Delish!