I spotted the recipe for Spicy Greens with Creamy Parmesan Bean Stew while perusing Pinterest one day a couple of weeks ago. It looked amazing. In an uncharacteristic move, I actually read the ingredient list and most of the recipe prior to selecting it for our weekly meal plan. At the very bottom, I noticed that the recipe had been adapted from Bon Appetit. I clicked. I looked. The Bon Appetit version, Spicy Beans and Wilted Greens, looked a little too green.
As I compared recipes, I liked the Bon Appetit version better because it contained no bacon (remember the vegetarian in our house), and it called for rosemary rather than paprika. Rosemary made a lot more sense to me in a dish that used parmesan rind. That said, I thought it slightly odd that the parmesan rind and the anchovies were optional. The recipe called for no stock, only water. Beans cooked with no meat, no cheese rind, no broth and only a sad sprig of rosemary for support? Hmmm. Interestingly, both versions called for the same amount of greens. Why were the photos of one so much greener than the other?
I decided to use the Bon Appetit recipe despite its green cast, including the optional anchovies and parmesan rind. I would say these ingredients are not optional. Bacon is totally not necessary to give this dish flavor if you use the parmesan rind. This bean dish was delicious.
I did take the adapted recipe’s suggestion and substituted broth for two cups of liquid. While the adapted recipe called for four cups of chicken broth, I only used one can of vegetable broth and I didn’t add the broth until the beans had cooked for over three hours. I did not have access to the chiles that were called for in the original recipe, so substituted the dried chile flakes as suggested. That said, I have no idea why this dish is called "spicy" - in either version - as my dish was not spicy in the slightest.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Beans take a long time for me to cook. This may be the altitude at which I am cooking or it may be the chef, but I have to plan almost double the time for bean recipes. Of course, I forget this EVERY TIME I make beans. My beans cooked for close to five hours (after being soaked overnight) and never got to the point of breaking apart. Mind you, this did not hurt the flavor or quality of the dish. I’m just saying that this may be a dish that you want to make on a day when you can let it cook forever. It is not a complicated dish. Once everything is in the pot, it takes no effort – just the occasional stir – until you add the greens at the last minute. But it does take plenty of time on the stove. You could make a whole additional meal in the time this cooks. Or bake a cake. Or make a sundress. Just saying.
As for the greens? I did use the entire bunch of kale and both cups of spinach. I only used one cup of arugula because my sous-chef, age 3.75, was slightly slow at the de-stemming and measuring of said arugula. I think that the reason that my beans (and the other adapted version) turned out so much less green than the original is that I skipped the final step of tossing one last cup of arugula with lemon and serving it over the top of the beans. In my case, my kids were ready to eat and I was simplifying. I might add that extra arugula next time I make this, and if you don’t have an army storming you for dinner, you should try it that way. But it is just delicious if you leave that part off.
The best part about this recipe? It contains tons of lovely greens and all of the kids voted that it was a keeper recipe. We ate the entire pot. No leftovers. Even the non-vegetarians loved it. Definitely a recipe to add to your repertoire. Just make sure you start it early or have your sundress fabric ready to sew.