Kitchn Love Letters

Smitten Kitchen’s Cannellini Aglio e Olio Is the Perfect Make-Ahead Lunch

published Jul 20, 2021
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Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

As the weather continues to heat up, I try my best to cook simple stovetop recipes and avoid turning on my oven at all costs. Salads, grilled veggies, and marinated beans play on repeat as I aim to eat as many vegetables as I can while staying as cool as possible.

One of my favorite stovetop recipes I’ve made over the past few years is Smitten Kitchen’s cannellini aglio e olio. Her play on the traditional Italian dish swaps out the pasta for a can of cannellini beans to create a simple, fuss-free meal that’s perfect for serving over toast or fresh greens. The playful recipe is one I’ve riffed on countless times, and it might just be my favorite treat to keep stashed in my fridge during the hot summer months.

Get the recipe: Cannellini Aglio e Olio

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Transform a Can of Beans into a Flavorful, Hearty Meal

The ingenious thing about this recipe is how a humble can of beans is completely transformed into a satisfying meal. Just like in the classic pasta version, Smitten Kitchen’s recipe starts by infusing olive oil with a generous amount of garlic and red pepper flakes. You’ll cook the beans in it, then finish with chopped artichokes and parsley. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes to pull off, but is bursting with flavor. By treating the beans like pasta, they take on the flavors of the oil and soften into a creamy, satisfying meal — perfect for serving over a piece of crusty bread.

The thing I love about this recipe is that the longer the beans sit, the more flavorful they become. You can make a big batch, stash them in your fridge, and eat them all week long knowing they will still taste great. The garlicky oil infuses into the beans, plumps them up, and lends them a decadent, creamy texture. They are delicious on the first day, but even better the second.

More Ways to Jazz up a Can of Beans:

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You Make Smitten Kitchen’s Cannellini Aglio e Olio, a Few Tips

Before you head into the kitchen to make these beans, keep these tips in mind.

1. Keep an eye on your garlic. The thin slices of garlic can burn quickly in the olive oil, so keep an eye on them as they’e frying. As soon as they start to brown, add the beans. This will reduce the temperature of the oil and prevent them from burning.

2. Season with salt. Beans need a lot of salt to shine, so you’ll want to be heavy-handed. Right before you serve them, give the beans a taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

3. Use any variety of beans you have on hand. Just about any type of canned beans would work well in this recipe. (I’ve made it with chickpeas and it was delicious). Just avoid canned beans that are already seasoned or come in a sauce (like baked beans).

4. Double the recipe if you want leftovers. One of my favorite things about this recipe is how well it keeps, so I always double or triple the recipe if I’m meal prepping. I find one batch of the beans is enough for about two hearty servings.

Get the recipe: Cannellini Aglio e Olio by Smitten Kitchen

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.