Pasta with Escarole and Beans


1 large head of escarole

1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups dry, cut pasta like ziti, penne or fusilli

2-3 cloves of garlic

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 teaspoons salt

2 slices non-cured, nitrate free bacon (Applegate naturals is a good brand)

1 tablespoon olive oil

grated Parmesan cheese

This is a very satisfying and tasty dish. Escarole, which is an endive lettuce, is a good source of postassium, calcium, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and niacin. It packs a whopping 16 grams of fiber per head the amount found in the my recipe. Cannellini beans are a white kidney bean and the contain calcium, postassium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin K. They provide 11 grams of fiber per cup and there are approximately two cups in this dish. You can use whole wheat pasta or regular pasta.


  • Put a medium pot of water on the stove to boil and add the salt. Once it comes to a boil add the pasta and follow the directions on the bag for cooking. You want to under cook the pasta so it is pretty firm and chewy because we will finish the cooking process with the greens and beans. When the pasta is done remove to a colander reserving one cup of the cooking water.
  • While the water is boiling clean the escarole by separating the leaves and putting them in a sink of water and swirling them around until they are clean. Shake them well and slice them into 1 inch strips.
  • Peel the garlic and slice each clove.
  • Open the can of cannellini beans, drain and rinse them under cold water. This will help to reduce the sodium content slightly.
  • Add the bacon to a large non stick frying pan set on medium heat and let it cook until it is crisp. Remove to a plate and let cool.
  • Add the olive oil to the bacon fat. Put the sliced garlic in the pan and let it start to sizzle, about 2-3 minutes. At this point add the red pepper flakes and the escarole and stir until the escarole starts to wilt, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the beans and stir to mix and lower the heat so it simmers gently. Break the bacon into little pieces and add to the escarole mixture with the beans.
  • Continue to cook the beans and greens for another 2-3 minutes and add the pasta to the pan. At this point you want to increase the heat so that the dish is bubbling and add half the water. Stir the mixture, continuously, with two spoons ( I use my wooden salad spoon and fork) until the water starts to absorb into the pasta. The starch from the pasta and the beans will start to naturally thicken the water to create a nice creamy sauce. Continue to add water and cook stirring until the pasta is al dente which means firm to the bite. It should not be overcooked. When your pasta is chewy you absorb less of the starch.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese. This recipe makes 2 generous servings.  Sometimes I save some and enjoy it for lunch the next day.