This classic combination calls for Tuscan kale, but other varieties work nicely as well.
Eat with rice or with crusty bread.
Make Ahead: The recipe makes enough beans for 6 servings. Leftovers can be divided among individual containers, if desired, and refrigerated or frozen for future iterations of this single-serving dish or others.
- For the beans
- 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight
- Peeled cloves from 1 head garlic (10 or 12)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For the kale
- 1/4 pound kale
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium clove garlic, cut into very thin slices
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the beans: Transfer the soaked dried beans and their soaking liquid to a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Pour in enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches; add the garlic, thyme, onion, carrots and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges. Cover and cook the beans until tender, 1 to 2 hours (or longer, depending on the age of the beans). Stir in the salt and cook for few minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of beans with 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (including some of the carrots and onion) and 3 of the cooked garlic cloves; cut those garlic cloves in half.
Let the remaining beans cool in their own liquid (with the garlic, carrots, onion, thyme and bay leaf); transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
For the kale. Remove the center rib from each leaf and tear the leaves into 4- or 5-inch strips; wash and pat dry. Cut the stems crosswise into thin slices.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the garlic slices; cook until tender, 2 or 3 minutes, then add the kale stems and cook, stirring, until they become tender, 4 or 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds or so, being careful not to let them burn. Add the kale leaves in batches, tossing to coat them with the oil and letting them wilt before adding more.
When all of the kale leaves are wilted, reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook the leaves until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cooking liquid from the beans by the tablespoon, as needed, to keep the greens from drying out.
Add the reserved 1 1/2 cups of beans, the 6 cooked garlic halves and the reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and cook for a few minutes to let the flavor of the beans infuse the kale.
Adapted by Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan from Paula Wolfert's "Mediterranean Grains and Greens" (William Morrow, 1998).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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