Friday, April 8, 2011

Italian Greens and Beans

I have been rather remiss in my blogging this past month, and that's due to a number of factors that would bore you to death were I to list them here, so I simply won't bore you. Suffice to say, a tornado of responsibilities descended upon me this semester, and when I have had a free moment, I've been cooking rather than cooking AND blogging. Let's just say I have an interesting backlog.

What I have for you today is rather special. Growing up, my mother was a fantastic cook, and she remains as such, but I rarely ever ate anything my dad made...because he didn't cook. My dad is a meat and potatoes kind of guy who wasn't involved much in the kitchen, and not that there's anything wrong with that (he's also a Seinfeld fan--did you catch my Seinfeld reference? Did you?) but when he did cook, he prepared a meal that is kind of a craving staple for me.

He also has an affinity for mafia history, something that I was disturbed by as a kid, but am rather interested in now that I've grown past the embarrassment over parental quirks phase. I remember watching him pour over book after book about the FBI's role in taking down Gotti, Gotti himself, Al Capone, pretty much all of the wise guys of yesterday, and so it is only fitting that this recipe I have to share with you came from a mafia cookbook.

Panacotte, or greens and beans in Italian, is a cheap and easy way to use up day old bread, and it's mostly vegetarian (I imagine one could sub out the chicken stock in this recipe for vegetable broth or water) so it is also a wonderfully cheap dish. The original, of course, is a bit different from my own version, as it uses escarole, and I've used kale in its place, and I'm not including a link to a recipe original, as this is one I've made my own. Try it the next time you have a craving for the food of wise guys!

Italian Greens and Beans
1 loaf whole wheat Italian or French bread, dried out (or toasted at 225 degrees in the oven for twenty minutes)
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of kale, torn into pieces
15 oz. can cannellini beans, undrained
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut Italian or French bread into cubes and place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Add torn kale and toss around in pan for five minutes, or until reduced in size. Add cannellini beans with juice, red pepper flakes, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook until kale has wilted. Remove from heat.
3. Pour bean and kale mixture over bread cubes in baking dish, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes.


  1. Nice to have you back! I just bought fresh kale. Will probably sub gf cornbread, but it sounds like it's on my menu tomorrow night!

  2. Cornbread is a great idea--I'm trying that next!