sauteed kale & white beans {how to prepare winter greens)

This article irked me recently. Perhaps it was my defense system kicking in. After all, my livelihood is creating recipes. It is also a source of immense pleasure. I go to sleep dreaming about ingredients and flavor combinations.

I totally agree with the merit of pattern recipes. Yes, "learn to cook a few basic meals and you'll be set" holds much truth. Until you get bored with those same three meals. Then you need inspiration, and while walking through the farmers' market is what works for me, I understand it doesn't come that easy for others. For many people, recipes are not the crutch or burden Ms. Buzzell makes them out to be. They actually make life easier.

For others, recipes are a means to learn how to cook. To learn technique. How to chop an onion, for instance. Without recipes and cookbooks, I wouldn't be the proficient cook I am today. My formal training consists of shelves of cookbooks, spattered with stains and notes written in the margin.

These days it seems the only news or information that gets attention is the type tinged with controversy. I get that is why Ms. Buzzell's article likely ran on The Huffington Post, but that doesn't mean it was worth digesting.

And with that, I offer you my twist on a pattern recipe for preparing winter greens. I'm not sure if Ms. Buzzell or myself is getting the last laugh here.

Rather then saying take some of this, and a little of that, I'm starting you off with a recipe for those who are not yet comfortable with their kitchen personas. Experienced cooks will likely be thinking some of the same tips I offer for expanding this technique to other ingredients.

And for the folks in the middle, well this recipe is my gift to you. I'm equipping you with the technique and suggestions to branch out on your own. The below preparation is a way Italians commonly prepare leafy greens.

First and foremost, food should be a source of comfort. Not in the way of cozying up with a bag of chips. I'm talking in the sense of knowing you are doing something good, by providing a basic need for yourself and your loved ones. That is what fuels every meal I make. Perhaps it's the ingredient we all have in our pantry—love.

New on Simple Scratch Cookinglight & airy whole grain biscuits!


Lemon Parmesan Sauteed Kale & White Beans

serves 2 to 3 

These days, I prefer using beans made from scratch. I've given you a basic recipe for making them too. If canned ones are what your time allows, or simply your preference, then use them instead.

1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado oil, as directed below

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 cups packed (1.75 ounces) shredded kale (see note below)

3/4 cup (7.5 ounces) cooked small white beans (see note below)

Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Add enough oil to a skillet to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium flame until shimmering. Add the garlic and saute until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale—it will immediately start to pop and sizzle in the pan, this is okay. Saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the beans. Toss with the lemon, cheese and season with salt and pepper. May be served warm or made a day in advance and served cold or room temperature.

How to Slice Kale:

Using a sharp chef's knife, make a slice on each side of the tough rib in the center of each leaf. Discard the rib, and slice the remaining leaves into thin shards.

A Simple Pot of Beans:

Add one cup of dry beans to a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from flame, and let sit covered for 1 to 2 hours. Add 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, 1 shallot or small onion and 1 dry bay leaf to the pot of soaked beans. Return to the burner and bring back to a boil over high heat. Reduce flame to a simmer, and cook until beans are tender to the bite, but not mushy, about 25 to 30 minutes for small white beans as used in this recipe. Discard garlic, shallot and bay leaf. Store beans with their liquid in a covered container and use within 3 days

Make It Your Own

Use these suggested substitutions to put your own spin on sauteed winter greens

extra virgin olive oil

sunflower seed oil

grapeseed oil


spinach (okay so it's not really a winter green, but it will work here)

collard greens

escarole (got me twice, but again, use what you like or have on hand)


cooked cannelini beans

cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas)


pecorino cheese

locatelli cheese

grana padano cheese (more nutty than sharp in flavor compared to other cheeses listed)


red pepper flakes

chili oil


Add vegetable bouillon to simmer the kale, essentially braising it, until it is very tender, if you prefer a less toothsome leafy green.


  • Deirdre Reid

    I agree with you. Recipes are a positive fun part of my life. They have potential to bring new dishes to my repertoire. They might be made only once, adapted and made again and again or followed to the letter and become an old friend.
    I don’t think of recipes as a crutch or a straitjacket – that’s a sad attitude. I’m not too impressed with Huffington Post’s food section. I used to subscribe but it was too much junk, polemics and boring posts to wade through to any good stuff. Sorry if that’s harsh but that was my impression at the time. Don’t let them get you down!

  • Carolyn

    I made your recipe for last night… tremendously yummy. Thank you. My family has an aversion to cooked greens and make me feel like I’m poisoning them if that’s what I make. I actually got a “it’s not too bad” review of this. I’m making this again soon, and I’ll wear my ear plugs to not hear the negative comments.