These white beans and Tuscan kale are rustic Italian cuisine at its very best. Whether served as a simple side to roast chicken or as the star of the show in a deep bowl with a grilled slice of crusty ciabatta, these beans will warm your soul as much as they fill your stomach. Dress them up with a flourish of chopped prosciutto or cooked sausage stirred in before serving.–Jenny Howard


The beans can also be prepared in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. In step 2, pressure cook the beans with the water, sage, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

A bowl of white beans and Tuscan kale, sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese, with a spoon.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

5 from 1 vote
Beans are a pantry staple in most Italian homes, a versatile and filling ingredient Italians rely on the way Americans use potatoes— or even pasta. They’re simple, easy to dress up or down, and a cost-effective way to round out a meal. This takes a while to cook, but it’s almost all hands-off time, and because it makes a large batch, you can serve it for several meals throughout the week.
David Leite
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories217 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes


  • 2 cups dry white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern
  • 6 cups filtered water, plus more as needed
  • 1 fresh sage sprig
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, large ribs and stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • Rinse and sort beans, removing any that are dried or shriveled.
  • In a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine beans, water, sage, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are just tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Add more water during cooking if necessary to maintain a soupy consistency.
  • Remove and discard garlic cloves and sage sprig. Add kale, salt, and red pepper flakes to beans, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer until kale is wilted and tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish.
Giada's Italy Cookbook

Adapted From

Giada’s Italy

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 217 kcalCarbohydrates: 5 gProtein: 5 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 14 gCholesterol: 6 mgSodium: 844 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2018 Giada de Laurentiis. Photo © 2018 Aubrie Pick. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Despite the hour and a half cook time on these beans, I consider this a quick and lovely base for a delicious dinner. The prep time is about 5 minutes and then forget it except for the occasional stir. I grilled Italian-style chicken sausages to serve sliced on top of a bowl of these creamy, cheesy white beans and Tuscan kale. Simple, scrumptious, and a terrific accompaniment to most proteins. This is a keeper!

I have to be honest, I really don’t like beans. I was turned against them from a young age by my father, a committed bean-hater, but I have to admit, I really liked this recipe! I made them for my husband, a bean lover, and we enjoyed them with grilled pork loin and warm French bread.

I found that cooking these beans for 1 hour and 35 minutes and adding another 1 cup of water was the perfect cooking time to create an al dente bean. The garlic, sage, olive oil cheese were the perfect additions to this flavorful, economical and easy side dish.

As if we needed another reason to love Italian food! This rustic white bean and Tuscan kale dish is simply marvelous; it represents everything that is grand about comforting Italian fare—simple in its ingredients, simple in its cooking style, yet very flavorful. This memorable side dish will be one that I will be making again and again. 

As for the recipe itself, the beans (after cooking for the stated 1 hour and 20 minutes) were perfectly tender yet not mushy, the liquid had evaporated, and the kale perfectly wilted. The addition of the smashed garlic and fresh sage really permeated the entire dish; both gave the white beans a lovely ‘pop’ of flavor as they cooked. 

I’d like to try this sometime maybe with some sausage or cubed prosciutto or pancetta added in. Also, I think fresh rosemary would sub in well for the sage if preferred. I served this with a simple pan-seared barramundi flavored in a simple agrodolce sauce studded with red onions, sweet peppers, capers, and pine nuts.

This ended up being a wonderfully comforting bowl of white beans and Tuscan kale, one for which I’ll keep a bag of beans in the pantry, so that I can make it often.

I made this using dried cannellini beans, and I made it in my Instant Pot, my preferred method for cooking beans. Since discovering how to cook dried beans in my Instant Pot, I actually don’t cook them any other way. I cooked my beans for 35 minutes, and then let them go through natural pressure release for 22 minutes.

The first night, we ate these beans in a bowl, as one would eat a soup, sprinkling on some extra grated Parmesan. The second time we ate some of this, we ate it with some of our favorite spicy, Italian calabrese sausage on the side. The third meal, had some of the sausage sliced, and added to the beans, making more of a stew.

We sealed and froze portions of this dish so that we can have a delicious meal, by just defrosting a package. We’ll end up having 6 to 8 portions of wonderfully flavorful, comforting dishes, all starting with 2 cups of dried beans. This is a winner of a dish, one which an IP makes for a quick, easy, and delicious meal.

These white beans and Tuscan kale were fantastic. So few simple ingredients came together to create a dish with surprising complexity and depth of flavor which was enjoyed by all 4 adult tasters.

I used the Instant Pot and cooked the unsoaked beans with 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, garlic, sage sprig, olive oil, and 6 cups of water for 30 minutes on high pressure. I let the pressure release naturally, which took about 15 minutes. I made the beans the day before, refrigerated them, and finished the recipe the next day. 

I think I’ll chop the kale more finely next time as I felt the pieces were a little too big. Since I added salt when I was cooking the beans I only added 3/4 tsp of kosher salt at the end which seemed to be perfect. 15 minutes to cook the kale was about right. I used the sauté function for cooking the kale in the Instant Pot. I feel the sauté function is just too high for simmering and next time I’d move the beans to a different pot and finish them on the stove.  

Simple bean dishes are a favorite in our house, whether as a complete meal or as part of a more complex dish. Even in summer, it’s handy to have a batch of cooked beans on hand and we were reminded of that in making this dish. It will serve two people for 3 meals, and very little extra work.

The results were a nicely integrated flavour–not dominated by the garlic or sage, but delicate with a rich pot liquor (one of the best things about home-cooked beans).  Soak or not soak, you can adjust your timing. These made a perfect meal all by themselves, and with smaller servings, could be a first or second course. I felt it could use more kale, so will add another cup or two of chopped kale when reheating, and maybe a small amount of water to thin the rich broth.

These white beans and Tuscan kale are seriously amazing! This dish took us back to our visits to Cortona sitting at a little hilltop restaurant with sweeping views and incredible food. The beans take quite a bit of time cooking, mine took about 2 hours and 10 minutes for the beans to get tender, but it was well worth it, and the house smelled so good while they were cooking! I also really liked the fact that the beans didn’t require the added soaking time before cooking. A great new shortcut.

I served the beans with roasted lemon-rosemary chicken and a warm crispy baguette. A definite keeper in our house!

I’d like to call this White Beans and Tuscan Kale Two-Ways since I cooked half on my cooktop and half in an Instant Pot. Did they come out the same regardless of technique? Not quite, but that doesn’t mean that both weren’t good. On the contrary, each was flavorful and satisfying, but texturally different.

For each version, I used Great Northern Beans and split the other ingredients in half. For the cooktop version, at just under 1 hour and 20 minutes, the liquid cooked down almost completely, the beans held their shape, and with each bite, the beans still held enough of their shape to offer a tiny little bit of resistance that was very satisfying. In this version, the directions were spot-on. The timing was perfect and the combined flavors were more than the sum of their parts.

The Instant Pot version was equally as flavorful, but different in overall appearance and mouthfeel. I cooked the beans on high pressure for 28 minutes and let them Keep Warm for another 10 before using Manual Steam Release. Then I added the kale and cooked that for an additional 3 minutes at high pressure. I’m not sure I needed more than a minute for the kale to cook down, but 3 seemed to work fine. In the end, there was significantly more liquid in the pot than in the cooktop version, so I drained the beans before adding the olive oil and cheese. Even so, the final dish was much creamier and more liquid, with much softer beans that didn’t resist slightly with each bite. 

After tasting both versions, my taster and I agreed that we preferred the cooktop version because of the texture, but that both were delicious. If I were to make this in the Instant Pot again, I might try cooking the beans for only 25 minutes and allow for no warming time, but otherwise, the flavors were equal to the conventional approach.

This white beans and Tuscan kale is a super good simple bean recipe. I’d make it again and again. Easy to riff on and leftovers reheat very well. Reheat and add a fried egg for a savory breakfast or top with sliced cooked protein like chicken or beef for an easy packable lunch.

We served it with pan-fried chicken thighs and sauteed grated zucchini with tomato, garlic, and basil.

I know! When you think, beans, BEANS, you’re probably not thinking of these super-yummy, creamy, rich, delicious, and appealing beans, but this pot of white beans and Tuscan kale is all that, and more.

We knew that this recipe for white beans and Tuscan kale would deliver what the aromas were suggesting when it was cooking. Wonderful flavors from the garlic and sage and we really liked the kick from the red pepper flakes.

This basic white bean and Tuscan kale dish can double as a side dish or serve over pasta for a complete meal.

I served the beans and kale as a side to Chicken Paillard with lemon.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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