The infamous Pizza Beans

This was pretty much the recipe that began it all. Once I made this I never looked at food the same again, especially the food available in the US food service industry. While this recipe site aimed to avoid the long winded stories that come with every recipe, implying they were hard won over years of traditions and ingredient scouting, occasionally food does that to people. Possibly the best thing about this recipe is it’s the logical evolution of a 4th generation comfort-food vegetarian dish. It’s something anyone could come up with or make with little time or skill. Originally our midwesterner Great Grandmother made “shell-a-roni” popular in our large extended family, a dish of simply tomatoes and shell pasta. Garden tomatoes were canned and eaten through the cold seasons. The simpler the better, sometimes it was just tomato juice & shell pasta. The second generation involved cheese or other unhealthy additions like butter (vegan cheese & butter alternatives are also decadent such as nutritional yeast, vegan parmesan, or vegan cremes like coconut milk). While it absolutely is delicious, and comforting, it’s not exactly the type of dish one can live on. It needs some greens & protein. Kale & cannellini beans were one of the first vegan dishes to make the cut for a regular meal around our house, though their flavor was lacking, not being in rural Italy where herbs were abundant and could serve as the main flavor of the dish. It was a natural evolution of the dish to swap out the pasta with beans (or do half pasta half beans) and add kale, spinach, or another leafy green. Seasonings like those in pizza sauce, oregano, basil, thyme, any old Italian seasoning mix will do. The extra flavor means adding fats & cremes aren’t necessary to make it a filling and satisfying dish. This also makes it cheaper and something that can be eaten often. It’s rare to have left overs of this dish!

As a random kid at a thanksgiving once said, “hey, this tastes like pizza!”

Pizza Beans Recipe


1 can cannellini beans
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cups chopped leaves kale, collard, spinach or other greens
Several cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Seasonings (Italian spice mix, or oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, etc)
Optional (2-3 cups cooked pasta)

To make:

Warm oil in a medium pot, sautée garlic, when nearly done add Italian seasonings for about 30-60 seconds, then add in canned tomatoes. Let simmer on low a few minutes, then add drained & rinsed beans (and pasta if using). Once everything is warm, add greens and cook until wilted, don’t over do it.
Top with nutritional yeast, a drizzle of balsamic, or croutons!