Over the summer I discovered that I love cannellini beans. I had never given them a second thought until we went out to eat dinner in a quaint little restaurant in New Mexico.
I ordered a dish with cannellini beans, leeks, portobello mushrooms, and spinach. It was good; there’s no doubt about that, but I kept thinking it needed something else – but what? This cannellini bean sauté is my answer to that question.
First of all, I had to figure out what was in the restaurant version. It’s not like they would let me in the kitchen to watch them prepare it, so I asked others at the table to taste it. As we tried to parse out the seasonings, I grabbed my phone and made some notes. Then I went about enjoying dinner with my friends, promising myself that I would come up with my own cannellini bean sauté when we got back home.
Fast forward to now. After looking at my notes I headed for the grocery store. Everything I needed was readily available. As it turned out, the only things I added were some colorful grape tomatoes and a sprig of rosemary. I had to wing it on the seasonings, but I think you’ll like it.
So what is it about cannellini beans that makes them different from other beans? They have a softer texture and that seems to help them take on the seasonings. After cooking preparing this recipe, you can eat just one bean and taste the rosemary, wine, and other ingredients. I’m no expert, but that’s how it seems to me. If these beans aren’t in your cooking repertoire, give them a try. We used them in our cannellini bean soup too.
You’ll need a leek, one or two portobello mushrooms, cannellini beans (canned or made from dry beans), garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and some seasonings. Serve it over brown rice or a whole grain bread, whichever suits your mood. Also, grab some white wine to use in the sauce. I used Pino Grigio, but choose your favorite. Go with something dry and not too sweet though.
Get Things Ready
This part is just cutting some stuff up and it goes really fast. I always like to get all of my ingredients out at this time. Later, when you need to add a dash of this or that, it’s right there on the counter. If you cook dry beans, make them ahead of time to speed up the meal prep.
You’ll need to cut up a leek, slice the mushrooms, and mince the garlic. When those things are cut, you’re ready to start cooking. Use the spinach right out of the bag.
Sauté Cannellini Beans
Use canned beans or cook dry cannellini beans. We started with dry beans and used the Instant Pot method to cook them. If you use canned beans, don’t rinse them, because juice they’re in adds some flavor. If you make the beans from scratch, use a couple of tablespoons of that juice in the sauté.
When you’re cooking the mushrooms, they leave some black flecks in the skillet, so it’s a good idea to cook them first, set them aside and then either use a separate skillet or wipe out the skillet with paper towels before you sauté the leeks and garlic. Doing this means you don’t have to see those black flecks in your otherwise attractive cannellini bean sauté.
The restaurant served it over a big slice of home-baked whole wheat bread. It made a nice presentation but the juice from the sauté made the bread soggy. I know that’s a cool Tuscan thing, but I’m not a fan of soggy bread. We served it with brown rice, making it a savory, juicy grain bowl that you can eat with a spoon or a fork. Whether you combine it with brown rice or with some thick whole wheat bread, the beans and grains combine to make a complete protein. What a feature!
If you like the bread idea, then try it that way and let us know how it worked out.
Cannellini Beans Sauté
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans or one 15 oz can
- 1 leek sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced or put through a garlic press.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ cup small tomatoes
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 2 cups of spinach
- Salt/pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
- 2-3 tablespoons white wine
- Cook the beans ahead of time or use a can of beans.
- Slice the leeks and the mushrooms.
- Chop or slice the fresh garlic. (or use a garlic press)
- Cook the portobello mushrooms in about a tablespoon of olive oil, turning them a couple of times until the mushrooms are a little bit brown.
- Put the mushrooms aside to use as a garnish on top after everything else is done.
- Sauté the leek slices, the Italian seasoning, and the garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil until the leek slices and garlic are soft.
- Add a sprig of rosemary to the skillet toward the end of the cooking time for the leeks and garlic.
- Add the beans, salt, the white wine, and the Italian seasoning to the skillet with the leeks and garlic.
- Stir for about 2-3 minutes to warm everything up.
- Add the sliced tomatoes and the spinach.
- Reduce the heat and stir until the spinach is cooked. This takes about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve over brown rice or toasted whole wheat bread.
- The prep time does not include the time it takes to cook the beans if you start them from scratch.
- If you make the beans from scratch, use about two tablespoons of that liquid to the sauté.
- The mushrooms leave some black flecks in the skillet. To avoid seeing these black flecks in your cannellini bean sauté, cook the mushrooms in a separate skillet or wipe out the skillet with paper towels before you sauté the leeks and garlic.
- If the mushrooms soak up the oil while they’re cooking, just add a bit more olive oil.
- The prep and cooking times will vary, depending on your experience.
- The nutrition info does not include brown rice or bread.
This looks great.
And we had your Cannellini Bean Soup this week. I made it without the tomatoes (because we can’t eat those) an used kale instead of spinach (because that’s what I had on hand) and it was great.