Saucy White Beans with Spinach

by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.89 from 9 votes
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When I need dinner quickly, I often turn to canned beans. They’re inexpensive (still, thankfully), shelf-stable so I can keep them on hand, and they can be easily transformed into a simple but delicious meal using ingredients in my pantry. These Saucy White Beans with Spinach are one of those quick canned bean concoctions that I made one night when I was hungry. They’re easy, cozy, filling, and inexpensive!

Overhead view of a skillet full of saucy white beans with garlic bread on the side.

What’s in Saucy White Beans?

This is a SUPER easy skillet meal made simply with some canned white beans, garlic, tomatoes, a few herbs, and fresh spinach. Boom. That’s it. Simple, delicious food, just the way I like it! That being said, you can always add more things if you want to make it a little fancier. ;)

What Else Can I Add?

If you have the time and energy to make your meal a little more complex, here are a few things you can add to take your saucy white beans up a notch:

  • Bacon, salt pork, Italian sausage, or pancetta: sauté the bacon in the skillet first and use the rendered fat in place of the olive oil.
  • Burrata or ricotta: after the beans are finished cooking, dot on a few dollops of fresh cheese for a nice creamy contrast.
  • Fresh basil: if you’re lucky enough to have a basil plant, toss a few fresh leaves on top for some bold, fresh flavor!
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: if you don’t have access to fresh grape tomatoes, these beans would also be great with a few chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • Toasted bread crumbs: Add a crunchy topping by mixing some melted butter with bread crumbs and briefly toasting them in a skillet or in a hot oven, then sprinkle them over the skillet.
  • A pinch or two of crushed red pepper will add a nice spicy kick!

How to Serve Saucy White Beans

My preferred way to enjoy these beans is with a side of garlic bread for dipping up that saucy goodness. But if you’re not into garlic bread, you can add some cooked pasta to the skillet and toss until everything is mixed together for a quick bowl of pasta. OR, spoon your saucy white beans over a bed of rice.

And I’m all about adding a quick and easy side salad to every meal just to add a dose of freshness!

Overhead view of a bowl of saucy white beans with garlic bread on the side.
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Saucy White Beans with Spinach

4.89 from 9 votes
Saucy white beans with spinach is an easy and filling meal made with canned beans that you can throw together on busy weeknight.
Finished white beans in the skillet with garlic bread in the side.
Servings 4 1 cup
Prep 10 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.32)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.26)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved ($2.29)
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, drained ($1.78)
  • 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.36)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach ($0.60)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)

Instructions 

  • Mince the garlic and slice the tomatoes in half. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the garlic and sauté for about one minute, or just until the garlic becomes very fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes to the skillet and stir to combine.
  • Add the drained canned white beans to the skillet (do not rinse the beans, the residual starchy liquid helps create the sauce), along with the water, oregano, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Allow the beans to come up to a simmer. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the liquid reduces to a light sauce (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the Parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick or dry, you can add a splash of water to loosen it up.
  • Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and stir to combine. Allow the spinach to wilt.
  • Taste the beans and adjust the salt, pepper, or other seasonings to your liking. Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping!

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Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 361kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 19gFat: 10gSodium: 213mgFiber: 12g
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Close up side view of saucy white beans in the skillet.

How to Make Saucy White Beans – Step by Step Photos

Garlic and oil in the skillet.

Mince four cloves of garlic. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about one minute, or just until the garlic becomes really fragrant.

Tomatoes added to the skillet.

Add one pint of grape tomatoes (sliced in half) to the skillet and stir to combine.

White beans being poured into the skillet.

Drain two 15oz. cans of white beans, then add them to the skillet. I do not rinse the beans because the little bit of residual starchy liquid (called aquafaba) helps create the sauce.

Herbs and water added to the skillet.

Also add ½ tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine, then allow the beans to come up to a simmer.

Simmered beans and tomatoes.

Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the liquid has reduced into a light sauce.

Grated Parmesan being sprinkled into the skillet.

Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan to the skillet. Stir the Parmesan into the beans until it has melted in. If the sauce becomes too dry, you can add a little more water to loosen it up a bit.

Fresh spinach added to the skillet.

Add two big handfuls (about two cups, loosely packed) of fresh spinach to the skillet. Stir the spinach into the beans and allow the spinach to wilt.

Finished saucy white beans with spinach.

Once the spinach is wilted, give the beans a taste and add salt, pepper, or other seasonings to taste.

Finished white beans in the skillet with garlic bread in the side.

Serve immediately with garlic bread, pasta, or a bowl of rice to sop up all that delicious sauciness!

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Comments

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  1. I made this today and it was absolutely delicious! Fast and easy to put together, too!

  2. Made this for supper today and it was easy and delicious! I plan to make it again soon. Thank you for all the easy and affordable recipes.

  3. Tweaked this by substituting a cup of vegetable broth for the water, upped the oregano to 1 tsp., and stirred in some cooked ditalini at the end. A little more soup-like, but it was perfect on a cool evening.

    1. I’m sure with some tweaking, this recipe could be made in an instant pot. However, since we have not tested it out ourselves, I hesitate to give you any specific suggestions since they may not be successful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out yourself — and come back & let us know how it goes! ~ marion :)

  4. Loved it!! So easy quick and delicious! I added a drop of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of spicy oil to my own bowl. :)

  5. I made this tonight because I had spinach and tomatoes that needed to be used. It was so good! Will definitely make again.

  6. Beth! THIS is why I love your blog and check it regularly! This recipe is the epitome of delicious, wholesome, cheap, quick and practical home cooking inspiration that I am always looking for! Might be the most perfecto recipe… everyone loved it as is. I added a drop of balsamic vinegar and drizzle of spicy oil to my own bowl. I could eat this every week…

    There’s been all this news about Noma closing, but I much prefer the joy this dish brings to me than any over the top cuisine. And speaking of
    the news, congrats on getting mentioned in The NY Times! ⭐️

    https://www.nytimes.com/article/cheap-food-items-grocery-shopping-recipes.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

    1. Hi there! However, with some tweaking, I suppose canned would work as a substitution in this recipe — only a guess, since we haven’t tried it ourselves to be sure it’s equally delicious this way! I would replace the cherry tomatoes with an equal amount (approx. 12 oz.) of canned tomatoes without their juices. Or, if you want to use the juices, I would suggest omitting the extra water called for in the recipe. I would also give the tomatoes a few extra minutes of cooking time to help eliminate their “canned” flavor. ~ Marion :)

  7. Made this tonight for a quick supper. Halved the recipe as it’s just me. It was absolutely delicious – although I admit to being heavy- handed with the cheese. Enough leftovers for lunch. Thank you!

  8. I liked it. I found it a little bland for my tastes, so I added more garlic, some crushed red pepper, and half of teaspoon of Italian herb purée, and that made all the difference.

    1. You can definitely substitute frozen spinach! You will need 1.5 cups of frozen spinach for every 2 cups of fresh spinach. Frozen spinach does contain more water than fresh, so I’d also suggest squeezing it in some paper towels to remove as much extra liquid as you can — just to prevent watering down the sauce. You could also add a little bit less water in the previous step to compensate. ~ Marion :)

    1. Hi, Fiona! Since we haven’t tested this without the parmesan cheese — I can’t PROMISE you will have equally successful results — I think an extra pinch of salt and some nutritional yeast would give the dish the sharpness and “cheesiness” that parmesan cheese provides. I’d also caution that it wouldn’t be an even substitution (a little nutritional yeast goes a long way!)…so you might add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast at a time, tasting after each addition, until you get what you’re looking for. I hope that helps! ~Marion :)

    2. Just so you know, while traditional parmesan is not vegetarian, there are a lot of vegetarian brands that use microbial rennet rather than animal rennet. You’d have to check the brand, but I think most parmesans made in the USA are vegetarian–I know that Kraft is vegetarian, and BelGioioso has both a traditional parmesan and a vegetarian parmesan, which is clearly labelled.

      1. Thank you for this info, Claire. I am a vegetarian, and I appreciate the confirmation about Kraft parmesan not including rennet.