Beans and Escarole

Facebook logo  Twitter logo

Beans and Escarole an Italian classic and a long-time family favorite.  As a side note, the Dutch oven pictured is vintage 1940’s Magnalite made from re-purposed post-war aluminum; it was used by my Mom for decades and now enjoys continued use in our kitchen. 

Escarole, with its leaves of bright green and white, heart of yellow-green and white tender new leaves and lightly-bitter taste, combines with creamy cannellini beans and the panache of pancetta to make Beans and Escarole a cold-weather dinner favorite.  Any leftovers should be refrigerated, then reheated gently and consumed within a day or two of preparation.

Select a fresh, firm head of escarole, avoid wilted ones or heads where the leaves are falling off the base, a sign that the escarole is not fresh. Cannellini beans are the traditional bean used in Beans and Escarole, but feel free to substitute small white beans or great northern beans.  Using canned beans, as we’ve done here, makes for a relatively quick preparation.  You can also start with dried beans which requires a little bit of planning ahead, see the note below regarding their preparation.   Prepare Beans and Escarole with a Sicilian Orange Salad starter for a simple and satisfying Italian dinner.

Beans and Escarole

Prep Time: 30 minutes, Total Time: 1 hours, 20 minutes Serves: 4

Support Cook and Eat at Home. Purchase a PDF of the Beans and Escarole recipe for $1.00


  • 4 Tb Cooking Oil (Olive/Canola Oil blend recommended)
  • 4 oz. Pancetta, Pork Jowl Bacon or Smoked Bacon
  • 1 medium Onion, peeled and trimmed
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and trimmed
  • Dry White Wine
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp ground Sage
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • 2 15.5 oz. cans of low-salt Cannellini Beans*
  • 1 large head of Escarole
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Dice the pancetta.
  2. Dice the onion and mince the garlic, combine in a small bowl.
  3. Take the head of escarole apart in the sink and wash thoroughly to remove any sand or soil. Shake any excess water from the leaves.  Trim the root ends of the leaves, then roughly chop them into bite-size pieces and set aside in a large bowl.
  4. Add the cooking oil to a large Dutch oven over a medium heat.
  5. Add the pancetta to the pan and sauté until lightly brown and the fat has rendered a bit.
  6. Add the onion and garlic to the pancetta in the pan and sauté uncovered until golden brown.
  7. Add a healthy splash of white wine to the pan to deglaze, stirring up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and reduce the liquid to half its volume.
  8. Add the bay leaf, oregano, thyme, sage and crushed red pepper to the pan, stir and cook for one minute.
  9. Add the beans and their reserved liquid to pan and bring to a boil.
  10. Add the escarole, lower the heat to medium high and cook until the escarole wilts. Discard the bay leaf prior to serving.
  11. Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top, accompanied by grated Parmigiano and Romano cheeses.

Beans and Escarole


If you prefer to start with dried beans, measure out 1 ½ cups of dried beans (cannellini, small white or great northern), add them to a 3-quart sauce pan, add cold water to cover the beans by at least an inch, cover and let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse, return the beans to the pan, cover again with cold water by at least an inch, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and allow them to cool down to room temperature prior to incorporating them into the recipe.

Beans and Escarole

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *