White Beans with Chard and Tomatoes

This barely makes the cut for a dish that deserves a recipe. It's simple but won't be special unless the details are right. The only indispensable ingredient is dried beans. As is often the way in Italy, they could be served plain, with diners invited to season with olive oil, salt and pepper as they wish. The photo shows beans mixed with chard, diced tomatoes and an optional sprinkle of chopped onion. But you could just as well mix in slices of cooked sausage and chopped parsley instead.

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 pound good-quality cannellini or other white beans
  • 2 bay leaves or a sprig of fresh sage
  • 1 onion quartered through the root end
  • 1 small bunch chard tough ends removed
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes diced small
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Chopped sweet onion optional


  1. Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Soak for 6 hours or as directed on package. Drain and wash well under cold water.
  2. Return beans to saucepan and cover with cold water to a depth of a couple of inches above beans. Add bay leaves and onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, partly covered, about 1 hour or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cut chard crosswise (including stems) in thin strips. Bring a medium saucepan, filled two thirds with water and a small handful of salt, to a boil. Add chard, cooking just until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.

  4. Remove bay leaves and onion from beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve: Spoon beans into shallow bowls. Top with tomatoes and chard. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Pass additional olive oil, salt and pepper, and chopped onion (if using) at the table.