I will literally (read: figuratively) eat anything that is Parmesan and black pepper flavor. There’s something about that combo that is so insanely satisfying to my palate. But I guess that’s why Cacio e Pepe is such a classic. And since I love turning a humble can of beans into something delicious, I decided to give a couple of cans of cannellini beans the Parmesan-pepper treatment. The end result is kind of like refried beans, but using a different bean and with a different flavor profile! Easy and delish!
What’s in Parmesan Beans?
This super simple side dish only has seven simple ingredients and only takes about twenty minutes to make! And since I usually have ALL of these ingredients on hand, Parmesan beans are going to be my new go-to side dish. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Parmesan Beans:
- Cannellini Beans: I like Cannellini beans for this recipe because they have a soft and creamy texture, but also retain enough shape so that you’re not left with complete mush. Their flavor is also mild enough to not overpower the Parmesan.
- Garlic: A little sautéed fresh garlic gives this recipe a nice deep base flavor. Plus, all good recipes start with sautéed garlic, ammiright?
- Olive Oil: The oil is used to both sautée the garlic AND give the beans a little more body and richness. You need a little fat in there to smooth it all out.
- Chicken Broth: Simmering the beans in a little bit of broth adds more flavor and helps create that saucy texture.
- Parmesan & Pepper: The two main flavor players! I can never get enough of Parmesan and pepper together. I’ve listed amounts below, but really, just measure with your heart. ❤️
Can I Use a Different Bean?
Cannelini beans really are the best choice for this dish because of their flavor, texture, and size, but you could probably get away with Great Northern Beans or navy beans. Both of these varieties also have a mild and creamy flavor and texture, but they are smaller in size. Navy beans also tend to break down faster, which may result in a mushier texture.
What to Serve with Parmesan Beans
Parmesan beans are such a neutral side dish that they’ll go with so many different meals. Today I served them with some baked chicken drumsticks and roasted broccoli, but they’d also go great with: Tomato Basil Chicken, Creamy Pesto Chicken, or Lemon Pepper Chicken.
- Mince the garlic and add it to a large skillet with the olive oil. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute.
- Drain, but do not rinse, the Cannellini beans. Add the beans and broth to the skillet with the garlic. Stir to combine.
- Allow the beans to come up to a simmer. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they’ve thickened slightly. The spoon should leave a trail in the beans as you stir.
- Add the Parmesan and pepper to the beans. Stir to combine. Taste the beans and adjust the Parmesan, pepper, or add salt if needed. Serve hot!
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How to Make Parmesan – Step by Step Photos
Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to a large skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute.
Drain but don’t rinse two 15oz. cans of Cannellini beans. Add them to the skillet along with ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth. Stir to combine.
Allow the beans to come up to a simmer. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they become thick and saucy. There should be a trail left by the spoon when stirred.
Add ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper and ⅓ cup Parmesan (grated or shredded) to the beans. Stir until the Parmesan has melted into the beans.
The Parmesan will help thicken the beans considerably. Give the beans a taste and adjust the Parmesan, pepper, or add salt if needed.
Serve the beans immediately, while still hot. The beans will thicken and solidify when cooled.