This white bean and kale bake is cheesy, high-protein, and really easy to make! The beans are simmered in a tomato-based sauce then topped with shredded asiago cheese for a flavorful but simple weeknight vegetarian dinner.
In the spirit of celebrating the versatility of canned white beans, just like I did with my stewed great northern beans recipe, I want to show you how easy it is to make beans the star of weeknight meals.
This recipe for cheesy white beans and kale features canned great northern beans simmered in a tomato-based sauce with vegetarian sausage, kale, and shredded asiago cheese.
I love serving the white beans and kale on slices of toasted baguette, but it's equally delicious on a bowl of buttered pasta or even on its own.
Why this recipe works
- Quick & easy: Like any good weeknight meal, these cheesy white beans and kale are ready in just over 30 minutes. The recipe only requires about 15 minutes of active time and minimal prep is needed.
- High-protein: This is a great option for those looking for high-protein vegetarian recipes. The combination of great northern beans, meatless sausage, and cheese yields more than 20 grams of protein per serving.
- Rich flavors: Despite the simple ingredient list, this recipe is popping with rich, herby, and umami flavors thanks to sherry cooking vinegar, asiago cheese, and oregano.
- Versatile: This recipe also works with chickpeas, vegan cheese, and spinach. Feel free to get creative!
- White beans: This recipe uses a can of great northern beans but it also works with small white beans, cannellini beans, or even chickpeas. One 15.5-ounce can of beans typically yields about 1 ½ cups of beans.
- Kale: We'll use about half a bunch of kale, which is 4 to 5 cups of kale or 4 to 5 kale leaves. I roughly chop the stems and include them in the dish, but the stems can be omitted if you prefer. Lacinato kale, also called dinosaur or Italian kale, also works here.
- Sausage: I use vegetarian sausage, typically Tofurkey brand Italian sausage. Field Roast also makes a delicious vegan sausage. For those who aren't vegetarian, this recipe does work with regular sausage.
- Crushed tomatoes: One can creates the base of the sauce. Choose an unseasoned can of crushed tomatoes.
- Asiago cheese: With a similar flavor profile to Parmesan, this aged cheese is smooth and melts well. Shredded mozzarella also works here, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly cheese.
- Sherry cooking wine: Much like with white wine or red wine, adding a splash of sherry cooking wine adds additional depth to the sauce. I also use this in my mushroom wild rice soup.
- Sweet yellow onion: White onion or regular yellow onion also work.
- Dry oregano: This adds a pizza/pasta flavor to the tomato sauce. One teaspoon of dry oregano can be replaced with one tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano, as needed.
- Cook the onions, kale, and sausage: Start by heating a large skillet or wide-bottomed pot over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Once hot, add the diced yellow onion, sliced sausage, kale, and salt. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and the kale is wilted.
- Add aromatics: Stir in the garlic and oregano and saute another 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic.
- Simmer: Pour in the crushed tomatoes and drained beans. Bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes.
- Bake: Add the sherry cooking wine, stirring to combine. Transfer to a lightly oiled 7x11-inch or similarly sized baking dish. Note that if your skillet is oven safe you do not need to transfer the beans and kale to another dish.
Smooth the beans into a single layer, then top thoroughly with the shredded cheese. Transfer to the preheated oven to cook at 375F for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Remove from the oven and season with additional freshly ground black pepper and parsley before serving.
- Simmer the beans: For additional flavor and depth, simmer the beans for upwards of 30 minutes, but at least 10 minutes. Simmer uncovered, but adjust the flame to low to medium-low heat so that only a few bubbles are popping in the sauce at a time. A low simmering temp keeps the sauce from evaporating too much.
- Choose an oven-safe skillet: Cooking the beans and kale in an oven-safe skillet is an easy way to cut down on dishes. I love my cast iron skillet for stove-to-oven recipes, but any oven-safe skillet should work.
- Or transfer to a casserole dish: As you might notice in the photos, I used a 7x11-inch baking dish, which is a good option if you don't have an oven-safe skillet. I don't recommend using a larger casserole dish. Stick to something between 8x8 to 7x11-inches.
- Vary the beans or greens: This recipe works with any kinds of beans! If using spinach, I recommend adding it at the same time as the crushed tomatoes.
- Serving tips: I think this white bean bake is best served on a buttered baguette or slices of toast, but it's also delicious as a sauce for pasta or with a side of rice or quinoa.
Leftovers of the white beans and kale bake are best within 3 to 4 days. Let cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.
Reheating: Individual servings reheat well in the microwave. To reheat the entire bake, cover it with foil and bake at 325F for 20-25 minutes, until hot throughout.
Freezing: This recipe freezes well. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Looking for more bakes?
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White Beans and Kale Bake
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium sweet yellow onion diced
- 3 vegetarian Italian sausages sliced; see note #1
- 5 cups shredded kale ½ a bunch or 5 leaves of kale
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- 15.5 ounce can great northern beans drained and rinsed
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine
- 1 ½ cups shredded asiago see note #2
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- toasted baguette slices for serving (optional)
- Start by heating a large skillet or wide-bottomed pot over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Once hot, add the diced yellow onion, sliced sausage, kale, and salt. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and the kale is wilted.
- Stir in the garlic and oregano and saute another 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic.
- Pour in the drained beans, crushed tomatoes, and black pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil a 7x11-inch or similarly sized baking dish. Set aside.
- Stir in the sherry cooking wine. Transfer the beans and kale to the baking dish.
- Smooth the beans into a single layer, then top thorougly with the shredded cheese. Transfer to the preheated oven to bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and additional black pepper before serving. Serve on toasted and buttered baguette slices or over pasta.
- Sausage: I like Tofurkey or Field Roast Italian sausage, but any variety of sausage links works here.
- Asiago: I use the medium holes on a box grater to grate thick shreds of cheese from a block of asiago. Parmesan or mozzarella also works here. Make this recipe vegan by using your favorite vegan melting cheese.
- Skillet and casserole dish: The best option is to use a 12-inch oven-safe skillet that can be used on the stove and in the oven, such as a cast iron skillet. Otherwise, just use a regular skillet and transfer the simmered beans to a 7x11 or 8x8 (or roughly similarly sized) baking dish.
- Leftovers of the white beans and kale bake are best within 3 to 4 days. Let cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.