Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

As much as I like fancy gourmet recipes and challenging my culinary skills, I also love simple meals that are fuss-free. That’s how I usually eat throughout the week unless I’m eating leftovers from recipe testing. Plus, you guys love when I share simple recipes, so today we have an easy recipe for Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice. It’s vegan (obvi), gluten-free, and even oil-free!

Oh, and if you are into easy desserts, then you must check out my new No-Bake Cookie Dough Bars! After posting those on Instagram, at least five people sent me photos of their remakes within 24 hours! So, yes, easy recipes seem to be a real winner around here!

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

In addition to being easy to put together, this meal is also pretty quick, making it a great weeknight option. Including prep time, the beans and kale take about 30 minutes total. And during that time, you can have the wild rice cooking. You can easily cook the wild rice on the stove or in your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker before starting on the beans and kale (instructions for both methods are included in the recipe).

While the wild rice doesn’t require much work, it does have a relatively long cook time compared to most grains, so it’ll take about 45 minutes depending on your cooking method (more on that below). So if you want to keep dinner under 30 minutes, you have a few options: (1) use another grain with a shorter cook time (e.g., quinoa) or (2) don’t even bother cooking a grain and slop these creamy beans on top of a hearty whole grain baguette! And if you’re grain free, slop them beans on top of a baked sweet potato!

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice
Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

As mentioned above, you can serve the creamy white beans over any grain you like, but I really liked it over wild rice. The earthiness of the wild rice offers a nice complement to the creaminess of the beans. Plus, the heft of the wild rice gives this plant-based dish a substantial feel, making it feel like a hearty main course even for those with big appetites. I actually used a blend of wild rice and brown rice (that’s what I had in my pantry). If wild rice is too earthy for your taste, you should try this wild rice + brown rice blend!

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

Regarding the ingredients, they consist of simple, everyday foods, many of which you likely already have in your pantry: onions and garlic, canned beans, tomato sauce and paste, a few spices, kale, and coconut milk. I use “lite” or reduced fat coconut milk to make these beans incredibly creamy, and rely on a few key spices to make these beans flavorful.

And regarding cooking method, I made a special effort to keep this recipe oil-free! If you follow my recipes, you know that I am definitely not oil-free, though I do try to be mindful and not just add a big glug of oil like they do on cooking shows and in restaurants. I think oil is sometimes necessary for achieving the right texture and bringing out certain qualities in food (e.g., browning vegetables, creating light and fluffy cakes), but I am totally open to experimenting with oil-free cooking where possible.

Typically, I would sauté the aromatics (in this case, onion and garlic) in a bit of olive oil, but here the use of a nonstick pan + salt + water make oil unnecessary.

First, I sauté a diced onion in a dry nonstick pan for just a minute. I add a little bit of salt to help release the natural moisture and flavor from the onions. Then, to prevent onions from burning, I add in a bit of water. So the onions get cooked in a hybrid sauté/steam method.

Again, normally, I would want to get some browning on the onions to maximize flavor, but there’s plenty of flavor and umami-ness in the rest of this dish that I felt comfortable with this method. Of course, if prefer to cook with oil (or don’t have a nonstick pan and are worrying about burning), I’ve included a modification in the recipe.

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice
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Once the onions are cooked, you add some garlic and fresh thyme. Since garlic burns easily, you want to make sure you toss it around frequently (especially important since we’re not using oil).

Then you’ll just toss in the rest of the ingredients, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. I recommend adding all of the ingredients except for the kale and stirring together. That enables you to evenly coat every bean in the saucy mixture before you add several large handfuls of kale in there.

That’s all I have to say about this easy yet flavorful recipe for Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice, so I hope you’ll enjoy it! If you make it, be sure to leave me a comment below with your feedback and tag me with your recreations on Instagram!

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

What you need to make this recipe

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Wild Rice

Vegan, Gluten-Free

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (~180g) wild rice (I used a wild rice + brown rice blend)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 mL) vegetable broth or water for Instant Pot method (use 3 cups (710 mL) vegetable broth or water for stovetop method)

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 1/3 cup water*

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced 

  • 1 can “lite” or reduced-fat coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste   

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste 

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika 

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (add more to taste if you want it spicy)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to season 

  • Black pepper to taste 

  • 6-8 cups shredded Tuscan (lacinato) kale, tough stems removed

*If you don’t have a nonstick pan or want to sauté the aromatics in oil, heat 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil in the pan, and once hot, add the onion. Cook until it has softened and is lightly browned.

Directions

  1. Make the Wild Rice (Instant Pot method):Add the wild rice and 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and select the Pressure Cook/Manual setting for 25 minutes. Allow a natural pressure release and drain off any remaining liquid.

  2. Make the Wild Rice (Stovetop method): Place the wild rice and 3 cups of vegetable broth in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and cover. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the kernels have burst open. Drain off any remaining liquid.

  3. While the rice is cooking, make the Creamy White Beans and Kale. Heat a deep nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt and stir together for 1 minute. Then add the water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion softened and the water is mostly evaporated.

  4. Add the garlic and thyme leaves to the pan. Stir frequently for 2-3 minutes to prevent the garlic from burning.

  5. Stir in the coconut milk, miso, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cannellini beans, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and coat all the beans in the sauce. Then add the kale and stir again to incorporate.

  6. Bring the bean mixture to a simmer. Continue to cook at a simmer for 10 minutes until it has thickened and is creamy.

  7. Serve the beans and kale on top of the cooked wild rice.