Recipes

cannellini aglio e olio

If this were still April Fools Day, I’d tell you that my next cookbook will be about how to doctor up a can of beans. But, like the best April Fools Day jokes, it’s only funny if it could be true. Rest assured, I would never, but it’s definitely crossed my mind. It’s usually at lunchtime on a weekday, which is my single biggest failing as a home cook. Maybe you’re shocked that a person with so many ostensibly quick, five ingredient or fewer, and lunch-specific recipes at my disposal would not enlist them during a workday. Or you might gather that between thinking about breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for a family as well as all of the recipes I might create for this site, books, or columns, when it comes to the relatively low stakes of my own lunch, slacking is inevitable.


all you need

That is, unless I spot a can of beans. One of my favorite things to do with beans is to treat them as you would pasta. I don’t do this out of any grievance with pasta/gluten/carbs. I do it because most of our favorite pasta sauces translate so well to other ingredients. From here, I’ve landed on pizza beans, weeknight beans on toast, and this grilled zucchini and white beans with pesto.

garlic, oil, pepper flakes
chopped artichoke hearts
add cannellini to the aglio e olio

But do you know what’s quicker and uses fewer than every single one of them? My lunch yesterday. Not hungry for anything in the fridge, I rummaged a can of beans from the cabinet and decided to pretend they were spaghetti, cooking them aglio e olio-style, i.e. in garlic and oil. Unquestionably simplest classic pasta preparation, aglio e olio hails not from New York (insert your best “all-ul” or Beastie Boys reference here) but Naples. Sliced or minced garlic is lightly sauteed in olive oil, often with dried red chili flakes (technically making it spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino), and finely chopped parsley and grated parmesan and pecorino are often added as garnishes, although cheese is verboten in some traditional recipes.

cannellini aglio e olio

None of this matters on a Monday afternoon, however, when I added all of the above and then chopped artichoke hearts, one can over in the cabinet. The result was a warm, almost creamy bean salad that you can eat with a fork straight from the skillet a bowl, or ladle over a couple slices of baguette, toasted hard. It was so good, I did the only rational thing and ate it for lunch again today. It’s so quick, you can finish the whole dish before the EP is up.

cannellini aglio e olio

Previously

One year ago: Asparagus and Egg Salad with Walnuts and Mint
Two years ago: Almond Horn Cookies
Three years ago: Eggs-in-Purgatory, Puttanesca-Style and Spring Chicken Salad Toasts
Four years ago: Carrot Graham Layer Cake and Wild Mushroom Pate
Five years ago: Three Bean Chili
Six years ago: Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Seven years ago: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons
Eight years ago: Spaetzle
Nine years ago: Bakewell Tart and Romesco Potatoes
Ten years ago: Chewy Amaretti Cookies
Eleven years ago: Shaker Lemon Pie
Twelve years ago: Mixed Berry Pavlova

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Crispy Spinach Pizza
1.5 Years Ago: Quick Pasta and Chickpeas
2.5 Years Ago: Garlic, Wine and Butter Steamed Clams and Baked Alaska
3.5 Years Ago: Broccoli Cheddar Soup and S’more Cupcakes
4.5 Years Ago: Latke Waffles and The Crispy Egg

Cannellini Aglio e Olio with Artichokes

  • Servings: 2 as lunch, 4 as a side
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Salt and red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-ounce cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • Half a 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino romano

Heat oil, garlic, and a pinch or two of pepper flakes over medium-low in a medium skillet. Let cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until garlic is just barely golden at the edges. Add drained cannelini beans and stir to combine. Add salt, to taste. Cook beans in garlic oil for 3 to 4 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water if it looks dry. Stir in artichoke hearts and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, just to warm. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Stir in parsley. Eat as-is, ladled over firm slices of toast, and/or finished with parmesan or pecorino cheese.

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124 comments on cannellini aglio e olio

  1. One of the newest things to come out of my kitchen is cauliflower piccata. Same idea, but cauliflower steaks take the place of beans, and there are capers. Highly recommend!

  2. Gerley

    Finally a good use for those artichokes I have in the pantry and have found no use for!
    P.S. I always look for the picture of your kids but I couldn’t find it. Is there one?

  3. Ali

    This looks sooo good. I think I may serve this over angel hair this week using marinated artichoke hearts and seasoned beans.

        1. Bea6

          Super tasty and filling dish! Served it with a simple side salad, olives, carrots and a glass of wine. Delicious & easy! Thank you!

  4. Kate

    Made this for dinner and served it with sourdough toast. A huge hit and perfectly quick to prepare on a busy school night. Thank you!!

  5. Iona Lindsay

    I have a version of this for lunch all the time! I’ve never tried adding artichokes, but I will now. Sometimes I wilt some arugula in it, sometimes add some chopped tomato. Goat cheese for creaminess, or a little broth to make it soupy. Crisp up a little prosciutto, add a bit of thyme or sage. Endlessly variable, always delicious!

  6. Andi

    OK, so now this is on my short list. I’m thinking a chopped up anchovy or two, and some Meyerlemon zest and a squeeze of juice might be fun. Thanks Deb.

  7. Gerri

    This is right up my alley Deb! I grew up on southern style ham hocks and beans made with great northern beans and cooked until thick and kind of mushy. It doesn’t sound good, but I never tired of it! (And we are quite diverse eaters). This dish sounds quick and delicious. I have an instant pot, so I might try with the dried beans. Do you notice much of a difference between the dried and canned in a dish like this? I know you were going for a quick lunch, but I’ve got time, and this will be dinner.

  8. Carla

    Sounds delicious…..I see from the comments that I am a lunch slacker extraordinar…. I usually grab romaine leaves, squirt on some plain old yellow mustard and no sodium turkey. Quick, not bad and hopefully by mid May I can squeeze my butt into my summer pants!!
    We do love beans though…so definitely making this for a dinner!!!

  9. Zazie

    This sounds quick, easy and wonderful. I think adding a few chunks of fine Italian jarred tuna – keeping them as whole as possible, and a squirt of lemon would work, too.

  10. Made this for an afterschool teen snack (they’re like toddlers and come home ravenous). I made it without parm or artichokes and it was surprisingly addictive. The red pepper flakes are key as well as getting some garlic on each toast.

  11. Sharon

    The recipe motivated me to look up pasta aglio e olio which I had never made. Found a simple recipe from Barefoot Contessa and it was a huge hit. Thank you for the inspiration.

  12. Yael

    I combined this recipe with your broccoli faro rubble, and you probably don’t need me to tell you that it was amazing, but I will anyway! It was hearty, filling, balanced, and delicious!

  13. Laceflower

    Ah, the tyranny of lunch. Only one place in town has cannelli beans and they were out! gasp, the horror!! What’s the big deal, why are they so scarce, around here, a capital city? Sounds delish. I’ve found a white bean with a brown middle that’s approaching cannelli’s creaminess, will venture forth.

    1. Angela

      Made it and loved it! Toasted the bread and rubbed each slice with a garlic clove.
      Added fire roasted peppers, the whole can of artichokes, more garlic than it called for, wilted spinach, green onions at the end. Topped it with feta and Parmesan cheese. Ummm, YUMMMM!
      Very versatile recipe.

  14. Louise

    I was just gifted with a spaghetti squash but have an intense craving for this. Do you think this would go well over spaghetti squash?

  15. mmmhhh thanks for another great recipe, I’ve been searching for quick lunches/snacks. My partner is away working for a month and I can never be fussed to cook a big meal at night so this would be perfect!!

  16. Lynn

    Deb, I have been following your blog and making recipes 1-2 a week for the last five years – my daughter even jokes that you are a shadow figure in our family :) and I have never commented before. But this post – this is exactly the reason why I adore your blog. An endless supply of recipes that are brilliant for their simplicity and deliciousness. After so many years, its definitely high time that I say a huge thank you – from me and all of my family!

  17. Sue

    Loved this! Made exactly as directed and it was fab! Agli olio is my favorite pasta sauce, so how wonderful to enjoy with healthy beans and artichokes. Will make again.

  18. Monica

    Wow, this was yummy! I always wish folks would serve something like this as a vegetarian option…it’s got protein! As easy as promised, a definite contender for weekly regular!

  19. Grace

    A big THANK YOU, Deb, for saving my Thursday night supper. You know how it is: exhausted after a long day at work, baby in bed at last, but although I was starving I just couldn’t summon the energy or inspiration to cook. This was perfect in every way: so comforting and delicious, and on the table in under 10 minutes! I added a tiny bit of red wine vinegar at the end to brighten it, and didn’t feel the need to add any parmesan. I am already looking forward to making again. Maybe with some goat’s cheese next time!

    1. bringdal

      Can confirm: goat cheese is awesome.
      Also can confirm: this is even good on raisin bread. Or eaten with a spoon out of the tupperware when toast can’t be bothered with.

  20. Melanie

    I made this for lunch yesterday and loved it so much! The flavors are delicious. The only problem I had was that most of my beans completely lost their shape by the end of cooking even with limited stirring. Still delicious, but a little mushy-looking. What brand of beans do you use? Any tips to keep them from losing their shape?

  21. dogwasteauthority

    Made this last night and we loved it. Great flavor and so easy. Served it with toasted baguette, side salad and a glass of white wine. Just perfect. This is going into the rotation and staying there!

  22. Eliza

    This was disappointing. It was bland. I think that I would need a lot more garlic next time but even still the artichokes were lost. I ended up turning it into a pasta salad with kalamata olives. This might be the first time that a Smitten recipe has failed me… likely the last though. I love everything here!

  23. Audrey

    I made this now! It is delicious. But I had difficulty finding the recipe, I looked under Beans, then brunch and then found it in quick!

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  25. Heather

    I made this. Probably overlooked it a little as the beans ended up mushy. But it was perfectly serviceable as a lunch atop chopped watercress.

  26. This is my new favorite comfort food. Sometimes, I use plain artichokes. Other times it’s jarred artichoke salad with red peppers and green olives. Totally yum with a sprinkling of Parm on top!!

  27. Mary Ann

    I have bean lunches a lot. I add whatever is handy – diced tomatoes, salsa, roasted red peppers or veggies, a spoonful of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. It’s quick, easy, satisfying, and a great way of using up odds and ends in the fridge or pantry

  28. bringdal

    Made my own version this week (which I’m eating the leftovers of now, MMMMM!) and it’s TASTY! I love that this concept is so easy to adapt (so easy period, actually). No parsley, so I used thyme. I schmeared a bit of goat cheese on my toast before piling on the beans… and threw on a little bit of the butternut squash puree that needed to be used from my fridge. I’m such a happy camper!

  29. Kelly

    I’m thrilled to find this recipe and explore the rest of your beans-as-pasta recipes.

    We also like another one from the Martha Stewart -brothy beans – that is white beans w/ whine + sage + carrots. “Beans on Toast” has become the most unexpected comfort food for my entire family.

    Stomachs in my house don’t do well w/ tomato bases so happy to try your recipe tonight.

  30. Jenna

    I made this to eat cold for a weekday office lunch – I made a lemon/ parmesan/ olive oil dressed kale salad to bulk it out and added some feta (left off the parsley this time). It’s so delicious, the addition of the artichoke really elevates the dish! Going to have it warm for dinner (maybe with an egg) sometime soon as well.

  31. Millie J.

    Do you think this would work as a potluck dish? It wouldn’t be served over toast but as is, like a salad. It could either come straight out of the fridge or sit at room temp for 1.5 hours, or it could be warmed up in a microwave if it’s best warm. Thanks!

    1. In my opinion the freshly toasted bread (preferably dipped in some of the garlic oil) is pretty key. Maybe the warm lentil and potato salad would be a better alternative or a hummus plate?

  32. Melaura

    I had this on thick lightly buttered sourdough toast and it was delicious. With recipes like this with few ingredients you have to get your seasoning correct–be sure to salt (and
    red pepper) and use fresh garlic and parsley and it’ll be tasty!

  33. Jill

    So good! When I lived in Catalunya, the flavor signature for so many dishes was olive oil, salt, garlic and parsley. Almost anything can be dressed with it, especially greens (veg) and beans (legumes). It was a nice return-visit to Tarragona.

    My Italian friend (grew up in Rome; he says to keep the red pepper flakes and drop the parsley to get the flavor signature he loves!

  34. Monique

    Yum! I made this as a mash up between my usual spaghetti aglio e olio and your recipe, so just added spaghetti at the end and let the beans and pasta marry. A vegetarian pasta dish thats actually filling!!

  35. Hannah

    Threw some leftover roasted chicken in and skipped the toast, and it was delicious! Will definitely be in my regular rotation.

  36. Lisa Roth

    Oh my goodness! Made this today for lunch and will be making it often. Simple and so delicious!

    I added spinach, mushrooms and asparagus to the mix as I had bits to use up and it was perfect.

    Almost elegant!

  37. Made this last night for today’s lunch. I used a little bit of avocado oil for cooking and then drizzled with some fancy evoo after. I used cilantro because I didn’t have parsley on hand. As I eat it, I am realizing I shouldn’t have given half to my husband for his lunch – it’s so so good. Thanks for a quick weekday lunch/dinner idea, Deb!

  38. Claire

    I’ve been making essentially this dish for a while now but throw in a bunch of baby spinach and serve on baguette with a cripsy fried egg on top. The yolk mixing in with everything just takes this to the next level of amazing. Always a winner.

  39. marynichols42

    Thank you for this amazing meal. I’ve made your white bean, pancetta, and chard pot pies and found them incredibly good. While I don’t have the same affection for beans as you do, I’m certainly growing more fond of them. Delish!

  40. tms727

    I made this last night! Omg the house smelled so amazing. It’s delicious. Serving it for a shabbat dinner tonight and hoping it will be good at room temp too, but I bet it will be. I wilted a ton of spinach in it, too, and I think it was a good move! Thanks, Deb!

  41. betsy

    Thank you for re-posting this! I have been looking for this recipe for years! There was only a whisper of a memory that I could pinpoint, and I remember yearning for the ease and delicious payoff. My husband is vegetarian for lent, and this was a super-satisfying meal he said he would love to eat anytime. I added half a shallot with the garlic and goat cheese at the end. A+

  42. Eva

    Made this, and it was delicious. Instead of serving with toast, I put fresh bread crumbs on top for some texture. I will make this again.

  43. Liz

    This was a fantastic surprise — cheap ingredients, super quick prep time, and so so tasty! Next time, will make a double batch (both to use up all the artichokes but also to have more leftovers).

    1. Leonardine

      Same here – I used a little lemon zest and juice just before serving, and it was lovely. I think a splash of sherry vinegar or a drizzle of balsamic would be good too!

    1. floscarmeli80

      I have seen Deb respond to this by saying there is a print option under “do more” at the end of the recipe. This function doesn’t work for me, using Chrome browser. Maybe it works in other browsers.
      But you can easily print anything by highlighting the selection you want, and right clicking on it. There should be a print option.

  44. Shayla

    I made this the other night. Because my husband needs “meat” for dinner, I added chicken and quinoa. Made a perfect quick dinner. Was just delicious and he loved your recipe.. thanks for the inspiration.

  45. This was amazingly simple to make and extremely satisfying. I ended up using the whole can of artichokes because why not? I also threw in some arugula and let it wilt a little for some added greens. Delicious!

  46. Made this with the giant butter beans and a healthy dose of parmesan, piled it on toast and melted a sprinkling of mozzarella on top– an amazingly quick and tasty weeknight meal! It’s rivaling broccoli rubble for my favorite vegetable-based open-faced sandwich!

  47. Becky

    Well I made this only the can I thought was cannellini beans was chick peas. I live in Lake Geneva, WI where it’s not a hop, skip, jump to the store. So I made it with what I had- and it was still delicious. It will be creamier with the right beans but it was good anyway. Love your wit and recipes!

  48. Maclean Nash

    This was absolutely incredible! The simple things are always the best!
    I added extra veg (red pepper and onion) only because I was clearing out my fridge before I leave town for several weeks and a splash of lemon juice.
    I cant wait to make this again and again. Thank you so much for sharing!

  49. Nina

    This is so delicious, I made this recipe already 3 times and shared with a couple friends.
    My only modification was to brown some shallots first before adding the minced garlic, only adds a couple mins of cooking and the flavours were perfect, esp. the day after as leftovers.
    Thank you for this simple yet amazing recipe, a keeper !

  50. Anne

    Many the time I’ve mixed a can of beans with salad dressing and had it for dinner. Love beans. Will definitely make this.

  51. Kellie

    This is fabulous. I made a few tweaks: added lemon zest and a thinly sliced zucchini, which I added to the the beans/artichokes and cooked until it was just wilted. I served it over a bed of arugula dressed in a lemon vingarette, topped with shredded parm. I also sprinkled with some lemony/garlic breadcrumbs I had made (which added crunch) My friends were DYING, it was so good. I can’t wait to make it again. Thanks for a good recipe, which can customized in a ton of ways.

  52. Anne

    This seemed very similar to an artichoke dip that a small family owned italian place near me serves. I added a splash of heavy cream and some roasted red pepper and it was just heaven. I can’t believe I can make this at home now!

  53. Sara

    I had exactly 20 minutes at home the other night (oh, middle school sports!) and had basically the ingredients to make this. It definitely did not disappoint! I didn’t have parmesan or parsley but did have feta and oregano so used those instead and it was great. I’m looking forward to making it again soon.

  54. Saad Khan

    This was a good dish, but reading others’ comments about it being bland, I doubled the amount of garlic and red pepper flakes. I also made sure to season with salt as I went along which I think overall improved the dish, along with lemon zest and juice. Finished with a light dusting of pecorino romano, and it was a huge hit with all my friends who enjoyed it as a healthy pre-party meal before a night of debauchery.

  55. This could not have come at a better time. I braised artichokes today (and have the wounds to prove it) and opened a can of cannellini beans to enjoy with them, but got distracted, lost inspiration, and put the entire can in the fridge. I’m pretty sure my son will love this.

  56. Dahlink

    I am loving all the options people have described here. I have made this twice so far and am sure I will make it many times again, with a different tweak each time. It is less a recipe than a springboard to kitchen creativity!

    Last night I made it with small white beans (Goya’s habichuelas blancas) and liked the texture even better than with the usual cannellini.

  57. Jessica

    I can’t believe something so simple is so tasty, quick to make, good both hot and cold, and pretty nutritious. I added some lemon juice at the end and won’t do without it in the future. I didn’t add any salt (I figured my canned beans and artichokes had enough) or pepper flakes, and it was seasoned well to my taste.

    Already really excited to try some of the variations in the comments! Also, I would love to know if you think this format (various types of sauteed canned beans + various seasonings) could work well with other flavor profiles.

  58. Meagan

    We love beans in our household – they’re one of the only things our toddler consistently eats.

    I made your Confetti Cookies over Easter, and I just wanted you to know that they were PERFECT. Light, buttery, and almond-y, and the sprinkles were crisp from the oven.
    Thank you!