This amazingly fast and simple recipe has become one of my absolute favorites as of late. Fast enough to make for a WFH lunch and delicious enough to eat for dinner, Beans and Greens on Toast is my new go-to cheap and healthy meal.
Y'all know how much I love food, right? I literally think about it all day, every day. So when I say I am honestly obsessed with this quick recipe and have been making it on repeat? You should know it's friggin' GOOD. The moniker should also indicate how flexible this recipe is. We're talking just about ANY beans, ANY greens and ANY toast you want. It's pure pantry heaven.
Table of Contents
The Luxury of a Real Lunch
While I'm sure many of you think that I spend hours in the kitchen making myself special meals all day long (I WISH!!!), it is incredibly rare that I eat an actual, recognizable meal for lunch. Unless I'm lucky enough to find leftovers or it's one of my shooting days, I just don't have the time! If that feels familiar, this is a recipe for you.
There's something special about eating a hot meal no matter what time of year it is. It feels more intentional, something to be savored and actually enjoyed instead of wolfing down in front of your computer screen. The French used to really be on to something!
This recipe for beans and greens on toast is fast enough to whip up on your lunch break that you'll actually have enough time leftover to sit and enjoy it. WITHOUT the computer. Like a real human adult. Can you even imagine?!?
Heck, you go ahead and pour yourself a nice, crisp glass of Picpoul de Pinet or Vinho Verde and trick yourself into feeling like you're in a restaurant. I promise I won't tell if you won't! And honestly, when was the last time you treated yourself to something so decadent as a real lunch?? You deserve it. Even your dietician will agree.
Why I Love This "Recipe"
Considering beans and greens take just 15 minutes to get on the table, this recipe tastes exponentially more delicious and complicated than it is. The only ingredient that actually needs prep is the garlic, which you just need to slice. The rest is just throw and go!
I am not lying when I say these beans and greens are dango righteo crave-worthy. The humble ingredients come together into a healthy meal that I would even feel good about serving to company. The cannellini are almost creamy, the sauce is perfectly piquant, the arugula gives peppery brightness, and that fried toast is just to die for.
Oh, and even though it has carbs on carbs (swoon!), I'd still consider this meal pretty dang healthy. Beans are packed with protein and fiber, greens are super nutrient dense and olive oil is filled with good-for-you fats. And while the recipe as written is simply meat free, it can just as easily be made vegan.
Speaking of making alterations, this recipe is more of a template than anything else. Beans and Greens as a category are endlessly riffable. Use whatever you have on hand - different beans, different greens, different toast. Add cheese or don't. Add nuts or seeds. Top with a fried egg for a gorgeous runny yolk and some extra protein.
You don't even have to use white wine as the basis for the sauce. Look to other inspiring ingredients like tomatoes, jarred tomato sauce, pre-made simmer sauces or coconut milk. Experiment with other pulses like lentils or black-eyed peas, or greens like kale, collard, swiss chard or escarole. Shake up the flavor profile using different spices, seasonings or acids.
When it comes to the toast, feel free to infuse your oil with flavor by tempering some spices in the oil prior to pan frying. You can also play with different kinds of oil depending on the flavor profile of your beans and greens. Sesame oil adds lovely nuttiness for more Asian inspired meals, while unrefined coconut oil will lend a sweetness that blends beautifully with curries of all kinds.
As far as equipment is concerned, you'll just need a sharp knife, a cutting board, a sauté pan and a spoon or spatula. Simple, right? This is about as basic as cooking gets, I promise.
Once you get into the swing of it, I can basically guarantee the idea of beans and greens will enter your weekly food lexicon and stay there. I was beginning to feel self conscious about making some variation of beans and greens at least 10 times in a three week span. And then I just didn't care, because it is FREAKING AMAZING. Seriously. Try for yourself.
Ingredients, Substitutions and Equipment
Beans and Greens have become my ultimate lunch template because I can grab basically everything I need from my pantry. Here's everything you need for this particular version:
That said, there are some notes to consider in case your pantry looks a little different than mine:
- Beans - My favorite for this recipe are cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans. That said, basically any canned beans oughta do the trick. Great northern, pinto, red kidney, or garbanzo beans are all great subs. Even black beans or lentils work!
- Greens - I always have at least one clamshell of an arugula/baby spinach mix in the fridge for adding quick veggies to my meals. It doesn't hurt that Aldi sells them for less than $3 a pop, meaning my salad obsession doesn't have to be super spendy. Feel free to use any greens you have on hand - wilty is just fine! Read more in the FAQ section below if you're unsure.
- Garlic - I love to buy bags of pre-peeled garlic. Yes, it's more expensive than heads of garlic, but when you're addicted like I am, the convenience wins. A bag that has probably 4-5 heads worth of peeled garlic only costs about $2 at Aldi, so it's worth it.
- White Wine - When working in restaurants, I learned to always keep an inexpensive box of each red and white wine on hand in the pantry for cooking. There's no need to refrigerate it, and since air doesn't touch the wine, it lasts for a very long time. Feel free to use the fancy stuff if you prefer and your budget allows!
- Red Pepper Flakes - I love a bit of heat with just about every meal. If you're not a fan of spicy foods, or you're sharing this meal with a kiddo, feel free to tone it down or omit it.
- Bread - I LOVE BREAD. I don't like my bread to have weird preservatives, though, and we don't eat enough to prevent it from getting stale or moldy. As a result, we usually have a loaf of Aldi or Trader Joe's sliced sourdough in the freezer, as well as whatever loaf I whipped up in the bread maker that week (also sliced before freezing). Any bread or bread-like substitute (like croissants) will do the trick.
- Butter/Oil - I prefer using a blend of both heart healthy olive oil and just a touch of butter for some browned goodness. Use what you have on hand.
How To Make Hot Lunch On The Fly
This "recipe" is absurdly simple. All you'll need to prep is your garlic by slicing it, which takes less time than crisping up your bread.
Interested in why you want to slice the garlic rather than mince it? It all comes down to how much you love garlic, and in our house that answer is A LOT. Slices of garlic means you not only infuse the mix with garlic flavor, but you also get bites that are particularly garlicky which are my fave. Feel free to press or mince it if you prefer. This is a zero judgement zone.
I should also note that the recipe as written will make two perfect portions, so if you're rocking solo life, just wrap up half the beans and greens mix for your lunch tomorrow. BONUS! Now, grab your ingredients and let's get cooking!
How to Make The Perfect Toast
Toast might be a bit of a misnomer if you're doing this the way I suggest. This is more like a crouton, with a slice of your favorite bread that's lightly fried in oil, butter or a combination to get a perfectly golden and lightly crisp exterior that's heavy in flavor. (If pan fried bread sounds like your jam, read more ways to make giant croutons part of your regular life.)
Simply heat your oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. I suggest rubbing the bread around in it on both sides to ensure a nice coating. Then, just let the bread get nice and toasty! Allow it to sit, relatively undisturbed, for about 2-3 minutes per side depending on how hot your stove gets.
In the meantime, slice your garlic so you're ready to boogie as soon as the toast is done.
TIP: Want some extra garlic punch? Rub a raw clove of garlic on the toast after it's done. It'll sort of shred into the toast and give you a bit of a bruschetta vibe!
How to Make Beans and Greens
Once the bread is toasted to your definition of perfection, remove it from the pan. Tip the white wine in, scraping up any bits of toasty fond that might be left over.
Once it comes to a simmer (which should happen quite fast), throw in your garlic and red pepper flakes to infuse the liquid. Allow the garlic to become fragrant, cooking for about a minute.
Toss in the drained can of beans and give the mix a good stir. Allow to cook until the beans are heated through, about 2 minutes.
TIP: This is supposed to be a fast lunch, so don't bother busting out the colander for your beans. Simply open the can most of the way, and use the lid to hold the beans in place while you drain out the liquid.
Grab a few handfuls of greens and add them to the pan with a 3-5 finger pinch of salt. I like knowing that I ate roughly a salad's worth per serving, so I use about ½ of a clamshell. Allow the heat to wilt them a bit, then stir to incorporate everything.
Cook until the greens are just wilted but still nice and bright. Switch off the heat and season with any salt and pepper as needed.
Putting It All Together
Lay your toast down on a plate or pasta bowl. Scoop roughly half of the mix over the bread, being sure to get some of the yummy liquid. Grate a bit of parmesan over the top and dig in! Bonus points if you treat yourself to a tasty beverage and turn off the screen while you enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're looking for the speediest meal, there is no arguing that canned (or jarred) beans are infinitely more convenient than dry. That said, if you're one of those meal prepping types, feel free make a batch of dried beans at the beginning of the week, and this recipe will come together in a snap when you need it.
In terms of what variety of bean to reach for, basically any will do. I happen to love the creaminess of cannellini beans, but any white, pinto or kidney bean will do. You can also reach for garbanzos or lentils if you want to switch it up! (GROCERY HINT: Trader Joe's sells pre-cooked black lentils that are super delicious in the refrigerator section.)
Seriously, just have fun with this recipe template and let your pantry guide you.
If speed is high on your list of priorities, look for tender greens. Baby spinach, arugula or mixed greens are all going to take zero prep (just grab by the handful and toss in!), and will wilt quite quickly.
If you're a fan of a bit of bitterness, reach for chicories. Escarole, radicchio and even frisée could work!
Finally, heartier greens like kale, collards and chard are delicious, but require a bit of prep to remove the woody stems. Consider using frozen options to cut back on your prep time, or do the work ahead of time on your meal prep day.
For sure! Since this recipe makes enough for two servings and Joe doesn't usually work from home, I'll make a batch and save half of the bean/green mix for lunch later in the week. I recommend pan frying the toast right before eating for best results, but you could totally get away with making it the day before and heating it up in the toaster oven before serving up leftovers.
If I'm feeling lazy, sometimes I'll omit the fried bread and just eat the beans and greens all on their own with a quick grating of parm on the top. While it doesn't taste quite as special as with the toast, it's still pretty dang delicious. If you happen to have some leftover garlic bread from dinner, that makes an excellent stand in as well.
Keeping on theme with the carbs-on-carbs idea, beans and greens also taste great tossed with some cooked pasta or heaped on top of sweet potatoes. (Sweet potatoes go particularly well with coconut milk based B&G.)
If you are packing lunch, grab some Wasa or crackers for serving. Trader Joe's has these yummy, long cheesy crackers that would be excellent as a stand-in for the toast.
Finally, look to other protein sources instead of carbs. Add a fried or poached egg to a bowlful of beans and greens. Fry up a chicken breast or serve alongside steak. Heck, even sausage links would work beautifully here. The point is, JUST PLAY!
Need more fast meal ideas? Check out these other tasty recipes:
If you tried making some Beans and Greens on Toast, let me know how it turned out for you! I love hearing from y'all in the comments section below. 🙂
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Beans and Greens on Toast
- Heat your oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. I suggest rubbing the bread around in it on both sides to ensure a nice coating. Then, just let the bread get nice and toasty! Allow it to sit, relatively undisturbed, for about 2-3 minutes per side depending on how hot your stove gets.
- Once the bread is toasted to your definition of perfection, remove it from the pan. Tip the white wine in, scraping up any bits of toasty fond that might be left over. Once it comes to a simmer, throw in your garlic and red pepper flakes to infuse the liquid, cooking for about a minute.
- Toss in the drained can of beans and give the mix a good stir. Allow to cook until the beans are heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Grab a few handfuls of greens and add them to the pan with a 3-5 finger pinch of salt. I like knowing that I ate roughly a salad's worth per serving, so I use about ½ of a clamshell. Cook until the greens are just wilted but still nice and bright. Switch off the heat and season with any salt and pepper as needed.
- Lay your toast down on a plate or pasta bowl. Scoop roughly half of the mix over the bread, being sure to get some of the yummy liquid. Grate a bit of parmesan over the top and dig in! Bonus points if you treat yourself to a tasty beverage and turn off the screen while you enjoy.
- Want some extra garlic punch? Rub a raw clove of garlic on the toast after it's done. It'll sort of shred into the toast and give you a bit of a bruschetta vibe!
- This is supposed to be a fast lunch, so don't bother busting out the colander for your beans. Simply open the can most of the way, and use the lid to hold the beans in place while you drain out the liquid.