Beans and Greens Spaghetti

The combo of cooked beans and hearty greens is a pretty classic one in Italian home cooking. The beauty of it, really, is that you can easily make a super hearty dinner for four that is nutritionally balanced, ready in no time, and even light on the wallet. Note: Although you'd never know it from the depth of flavor, this recipe is also vegetarian. If you prefer a bit of meat with your dinner go ahead and crisp up some pancetta, bacon or their leaner Canadian cousin and add that to the mix too.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 10 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 bunch or small head of cooking greens (such as escarole, Swiss chard or kale), washed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and ground black pepper

Zest and juice of half a lemon  

1 cup basil leaves, chopped

Shaved Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water from the pot. Drain the cooked pasta well and reserve. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place a large high-sided skillet over moderate heat with the olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until tender and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the greens and beans to the skillet along with the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water, season with salt and pepper and place a lid on the skillet. Cook the greens, stirring occasionally, until wilted and heated through, about 5 minutes.
  3. When the pasta and greens are both ready, toss them together along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Serve the pasta garnished with shaved parmesan cheese, if desired.