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Saucy Cannellini Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Anchovies

The power of the pantry.

Cannellini beans reign supreme in the weeknight dinner department, and they’re proving it again with this easy one-pan dinner. Simmered in a lemony garlic and anchovy sauce and topped with crispy breadcrumbs, these simple beans will quickly become a go-to dinner any night of the week.

Finely chopped garlic and anchovies provide the backbone of flavor here, lending richness and umami. Simmering them briefly in the olive oil both activates their flavor and infuses its essence into the oil, which carries it throughout the dish. If you’re feeling squeamish about the anchovies, don’t worry: they dissolve into the olive oil, so there won’t be any discernable anchovy bits in the finished beans, and once they’re combined with the garlic, chili flake, fresh lemon juice, and parsley, their aggressive fishy flavor will be tempered and balanced.

Toasting breadcrumbs isn’t difficult, but it’s important to watch them closely as they cook. Keep the pan on medium-low heat and stir constantly to ensure they toast at an even rate. Once they begin to color they will brown fast, so remove them from the heat as soon as they’re golden and transfer them to a bowl immediately: the residual heat from the pan will continue to cook them, and you don’t want them to burn. Once they’re in the bowl, add the lemon zest immediately: the warmth of the hot breadcrumbs will activate the oils in the zest, unlocking its fragrance and flavor.  

These beans can be served alone, but a side of olive oil-fried bread takes them to the next level. The bread can serve as a vehicle for carrying the beans, or as a simple accompaniment for soaking up the sauce. It might be double carbs, but this is Italian food and we’re skipping the pasta, so I figure we’re at least partially entitled.



Saucy Cannellini Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Anchovies

(Serves 4-6)

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided

½ c. panko breadcrumbs

¾ tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt, divided

2 tsp. lemon zest

8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 (14.5-oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed

½ tsp. red chili flakes

2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 slices country white bread, toasted, for serving (optional)

Equipment: large pan



In a large pan, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, panko, and ½ tsp. kosher salt. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and toasted, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer immediately to a medium bowl. Add 2 teaspoon lemon zest and stir to combine. Set aside.

In same large pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and garlic and cook until fragrant and garlic is lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Add white beans, ¼ tsp. chili flakes, remaining ½ tsp. salt and ¾ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer until water is nearly evaporated, 5-6 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon juice.

Serve topped with reserved bread crumbs, with toasted bread as desired.

Originally posted March 8, 2024.

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