Cheesy beans with greens and salsa verde

By Tara O'Brady
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Who can resist cheesy goodness for dinner tonight? This Mexican-inspired dish is made with broccoli, cannellini beans, ricotta cheese, spinach and tomatoes. It's an ooey-gooey recipe that the family will love. 

SERVES
4
 TO
5

Ingredients

Cheesy Beans with Greens

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season
  • 2 cups firm ricotta
  • 300g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained, and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1 1/2 cups grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • Fresh nutmeg, to season (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, minced
  • 2 (540 ml) cans cannellini, great northern, or white kidney beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Salsa Verde

  • 1 small red chile
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 2 cups mixed tender herbs (basil, parsley, dill, tarragon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 or 2 anchovy fillets (omit for vegetarian version)
  • 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Directions

Cheesy Beans and Greens

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F, with a rack in the middle.
  2. In a large, ovenproof skillet (we’ll bake the beans in the same pan), heat two teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Scatter the broccolini around the pan, working in batches if necessary to stop crowding. Let cook, undisturbed, until charred in spots and starting to wilt, about 90 seconds, then flip to the other side until tender. Remove to a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining broccolini if needed. Turn the heat off and set the pan aside.
  4. Once the broccolini is cool enough to handle, chop it into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl, season well.
  5. Stir in the ricotta, spinach, half cup of the mozzarella, one-third of the garlic, and the nutmeg, if using. Season again, confidently, and taste. Set aside.
    Wipe out the pan if needed. Over medium heat, melt the butter into the rest of the olive oil.
  6. Sauté the onion, with the remaining garlic, and red pepper flakes until translucent, stirring often, for about five minutes.
  7. Spoon in the tomato paste and cook until darkened and sticky, one minute or so.
  8. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, and basil, season, and increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer for five minutes, then stir in the beans.
  9. Simmer for five minutes more. If the sauce seems to thicken to the point of sticking, stir a splash of water to keep it loose and moving.
  10. Drop spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture around the pan. Fold gently.
  11. Top with the one cup mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano and bake in the hot oven until heated through and bubbling, about 15 minutes. If the cheese hasn’t browned to your liking, pass it quickly under a hot broiler.

Salsa Verde 

  1. Stem and seed the red chile. Roughly chop.
  2. On the same board, slice the shallot thinly. Move the chile and shallot into the centre of the board.
  3. Pile the herbs, garlic, anchovy, and capers on top, then mince the entire pile together.
  4. Scrape the resulting edible confetti into a small bowl. With a microplane, grate in about one teaspoon of zest. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. Stir in the olive oil, season well. Taste and adjust—the aim is a punchy, bright, salty condiment. Add more lemon juice or salt as needed. (For a smooth sauce, blitz in a blender or food processor.)

To Serve 

  1. Drizzle with salsa verde and serve with grilled bread. Enjoy!

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