The Dish | Braised White Beans, Greens and Italian Sausage with Parmesan

Julia Gartland for The New York Times (Photography and Styling)

For that rainy day — like last week! — or when someone you know is craving something cozy and fortifying, I turn my larder upside down for ingredients socked away from earlier cooking sprees inspired by seasonal market bounty or leftover dinner parties. When the stars align just so, all I have to do is defrost the different bundles (of stock, cooked beans, sauteed chard, etc.), combine in a pot, adjust seasoning, and voila — dinner, lunch, or what have you. For all the other times, I find an approximation of this NYT Cooking recipe just the ticket. For meat lovers, you can add a half pound (or thereabouts) of crumbled, browned Italian sausage (or pancetta, etc).

Yield: 4 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and small-diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, small-diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches escarole, kale or Swiss chard, stems removed (10 to 12 ounces)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella (optional)
  • ½+ lb (2-3 links removed from casing) Italian sausage (pancetta is another good option)
  • 3 tablespoons grated pecorino romano or parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Toasted country bread, for serving
  1. If adding sausage, use a 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven to brown meat over medium-high heat then set aside. Pour off most of the fat, but leave browned bits in the pan.
  2. Using the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the fennel, onion, and rosemary, and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Begin adding handfuls of the greens, cooking and stirring until leaves wilt.
  4. Add the white beans, browned sausage (if using), broth and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, mashing some of the beans with a wooden spoon, until the liquid has reduced and thickened, 6-8 minutes.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, then the mozzarella, if using, and pecorino romano. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide among shallow bowls and top with more pecorino romano. Serve with toasted bread and a dish of red pepper flakes on the side.

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