After the chaos of December, a month filled with rich food and travel and so much stimulation that I almost feel like my body and brain are going to explode, I want my January cooking to be the exact opposite of this. I’m looking for the emotional and physical impact of a salad—calming, healthy, something to make my body and brain relax—but it’s extremely cold and my food cannot also be extremely cold.
I’m not going on a diet—instead, I’m leaning on dishes that help me eat more of the good stuff, so I forget that I’m supposed to be depriving myself of the indulgent stuff. More vegetables, more non-animal based proteins, more whole grains, that’s my January motto.
Enter beans ‘n greens, the riffable pantry-staple dish that will carry me through the cold months. The base recipe, which calls for only 7 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) many of which you probably have on hand, is a super-easy, vegetarian meal that is heavy on the greens. Leave out the cheese and it’s vegan. It’s delicious just as it is, and it comes together in under 30 minutes.
But the thing that I love about this recipe is that it is so very riffable—want to use kale, chard or broccoli rabe? Go ahead. Almost any green will work in this dish. Want to make it into a pasta? It’s great for that. Need a little more protein? Add bacon, pancetta or basically any ground meat. Want it to be soup? It can be soup. This dish does it all.
I’ve written the recipe to serve two, because I only live with one other person. But I regularly double this recipe and eat it for lunch the next day. It will feed a hungry family that way, and can easily be tripled or even quadrupled for a larger gathering.
This recipe is short and sweet for a reason: It’s intended to help you eat the way you want to. Add a little more liquid or take some away. Add an onion. An onion never hurt anyone. Add more chili flake, or don’t use any. I sometimes throw an anchovy (or 6) in here because I like it like that. Let this dish be a jumping off point for you to make yourself and your loved ones a delicious, comforting meal packed with vegetables without breaking a sweat. Use what you have in your fridge to nourish yourself this winter, because we’re sure not leaving the house.
GET THE RECIPE: Pantry Beans and Greens