I am always searching for a new way to enjoy beans, since they are a top protein source for vegan/vegetarians and we eat them so often! NYTimes Cooking inspired me with one of their recipes a few weeks ago. Their idea of a creamy white bean balanced by a pop of green freshness really appealed to me on both health and taste levels, so I delved into it even further by switching to a starchier butter bean, and adding a powerful pack of spinach.
This couldn’t be simpler to make — and it only took ten minutes! We served ours with just barely sauteed kale (leaving plenty of bite) and a delicious loaf of crusty ciabatta bread. The beauty of this dish is its simplicity, and that it is simultaneously comforting and invigorating. There aren’t many meals that do both!
If you’re not sure of the difference between butter beans and white cannellini beans, butter beans are actually baby lima beans. They are larger and starchier than white beans. They get their name because of how smooth and buttery they are in texture! White beans are a type of kidney beans, which have a nutty, meatier flavor and a tender flesh.
2 Tbsp, plus an additional 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can butter beans, drained
In a large skillet over medium heat, preheat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and stir often for about a minute. Add butter beans and stir for 2 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush just less than half of the beans. Add vegetable stock and a pinch of salt, stir, and then reduce heat to a simmer for another 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy.
Meanwhile, put cilantro, chives, spinach, and 2 Tbsp olive oil into a food processor. Process until it has the smooth texture of pesto, adding more oil as necessary. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the pesto to a small bowl and add a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
Serve beans with spinach pesto drizzled on top, and alongside some lightly sauteed Italian kale and a few slices of hearty bread, if desired.