Pan-fried Corona Beans & Kale Recipe

Love these - white beans pan-fried until they're golden, with kale, Parmesan, lemon, walnuts, and nutmeg.

Pan-fried Corona Beans & Kale

The other day I found myself in the basement of San Francisco's Anthropologie store. I'd fallen for the rose & tuberose solid Frazer Parfum on my way down, and was at the base of the grand staircase, looking at starlight rings and beaded necklaces, when a pretty lady, sitting with her daughter, smiled at me. A few minutes later she asked if my name was Heidi, and she said she knew me from my site - this site!...

I'm so glad she said hello. It turns out we have quite a number of things in common, and I'm sure we could have talked about cooking, or photography, or places to visit for hours. Her daughter was a sweet pea and very patient with us. Anyhow, I feel like I left the house looking for a pair of black ballet flats, and ended up making a friend instead. It turns out she has a site too- and as I was looking through it, this lemon kale pesto with nutmeg jumped out at me. I had some beans soaking at home and decided to somehow weave the beans and the lemon kale pesto idea together.

Pan-fried White Beans and Kale

I deconstructed the kale pesto, and didn't end up chopping it finely (or pureeing it). In the end, the whole thing was very similar to one of the recipes I included in Super Natural Cooking - but at the same time, remarkably different. Because of the toasted walnuts (I didn't have pecans on hand) and the hint of nutmeg, an entirely different flavor profile developed. The fresh lemon zest and juice, added for the finale, tied all the flavors together in an unexpected, complex, and offbeat way. If you've been a fan of that SNC recipe (page 152), give this version a try, and take note of how a few little ingredient tweaks can make such a huge difference. Don't leave out the nutmeg. Dare I say I like this one better?

Thanks for the inspiration Jessica. I'm so glad our paths crossed.

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Pan-fried Corona Beans & Kale

A few notes related to the recipe - be sure to wash the kale well, so you don't end up with grit in your beans. I use dried beans (that I've cooked myself) here, and would highly recommend using them over canned beans - they brown up better and are less likely to go to mush. I used giant corona beans, but you could use runner cannellini, or something similar. I like the white beans because they take on a lot of color in the pan. Alternate recipe - I'm confident you could do this preparation with gnocchi (don't boil the gnocchi first) in place of the beans.

1/2 bunch / 6 oz / 170 g dino kale or lacinato kale, remove stems

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 - 3 big handfuls of cooked large white beans (see head notes)

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup / 1 1/2 oz / 45 g walnuts, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
scant 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup / 1/2 oz / 15 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Finely chop the kale, wash it, and shake off as much water as you can. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you own. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside.

Add the kale and salt to the pan and cook for less than a minute, just long enough for the kale to lose a bit of its structure. Stir in the walnuts and garlic, wait 10 seconds, then stir in the nutmeg. Wait ten seconds and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat and serve dusted with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2 - 4.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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oh wow! this looks so amazing! I love the idea of large beans and kale, my favorite! I cant' wait to try this!


so cool to run into somebody with similar interests, tastes, and thought processes. I just checked her blog, and she seems to be so much like you. Cheers on your new friendship. on the recipe note, I love it when I find a way to use kale. I like to incorporate it in the cooking for its nutritional benefits, but often find myself running out of ideas on how. So, thanks a ton to you and Jessica. Jessica, in case you are reading this, I love your site, and will be visiting it regularly.


what a wonderful story. i love chance meetings. this looks delicious and i'm intrigued by the addition of nutmeg. as i am gnocchi obsessed, i will have to give that variation a whirl too!

braise & butter

what a wonderful story. i love chance meetings. this looks delicious and i'm intrigued by the addition of nutmeg. as i am gnocchi obsessed, i will have to give that variation a whirl too!

braise & butter

Awesome recipe! Since I no longer eat cheese, I'm always on the lookout for a seasoning to add extra flavor to my beans 'n' greens dishes. I added some of Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning to my last batch, and everyone loved it! It's in a grinder, so can be added easily at the table. Can't wait to try the gnocchi variation! Thanks!


Great story and delicious recipe!

Simply Life

Very cool to make friends when you least expect it! Beans n Greens is one of our favorite meals and this version looks extra tasty! I really like the addition of the walnuts.

christie @ honoring health

This looks great. Kale is one of my favourite veg, too.


Great! I just bought Kale, to use in a green smoothie. Did I just admit that? In any case, I love all the components going into your recipe, and I feel healthier just looking at it; it's a must-try.


I LOVE giant beans. I'm Greek and we eat them a lot! I've never tried them with kale before. I sure am gonna give it a go. Looks great! Magda

my little expat kitchen

What a cool story - sounds like you two were meant to meet! This recipe looks lovely - I might try it with spelt pagodas. By the way I made a lovely version of the Pounded Walnut Pesto you had on here a while back - I added some cavalo nero and it turned out great. Thanks!

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

I just discovered your blog and LOVE it. I'm always looking for inspiration in the kitchen. This might seem like a silly question but do you soak and cook the dried beans before putting them in the pan? HS: Yes, soak and cook the beans first. :)


omg i LOVE kale pesto. i've never tried it with lemon, but obv it would be amazing. love your dish. glad that you found inspiration from a lovely coincidence.


I don't think I've ever tried corona beans. Will be on the lookout for them. FYI, I've been a loyal follower for years and you have hipped me up to plenty! I was thrilled to meet you briefly last year at the IACP Conference in Denver and appreciated your encouraging words when I mentioned I wanted to start a food site. You are an inspiration for many. HS: It was great meeting you as well Andrea.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

That's a really great story. And I love the way you describe Anthropologie. My dream job (I think... It's really hard to know) is to design their stores someday, and make them look just as poetic as you make this one sound. I wonder if I would recognize you if I saw you in the real world. I hope so.

Satpreet Kahlon

So awesome to meet a friend! Andddd...get a new recipe!


I think it is so neat that you met a fan at Anthropologie. I hope to meet you in person one day too! This looks like a wonderful, flavorful and filling bean dish. I love the plumpness of the corona beans.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

What a sweet story, and the beans & kale look great. At first glance, I thought the beans were gnocchi!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

Thanks so much for listing the alternatives. It is a huge help to those of us who are tied to recipes in the kitchen!


This looks so good and comforting! I love the story behind it too!!


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