You may already love creamed kale as an easy side dish. However, if you add in gnocchi, ham, and beans it becomes the most delicious, comforting baked pasta dinner.
There are so many ways to add beans to your daily diet. They make a great substitution for chickpeas in White Bean Hummus and play well with lentils in a fabulous Warm Lentil White Bean Salad with bacon and tomatoes.
Disclosure: This post is made possible by Alberta Pulse Growers. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Creamed Kale Gnocchi with Beans
There’s nothing more comforting than baked gnocchi in a creamy sauce. Or is there? The addition of leftover smoky ham, creamy beans, and vibrant kale will take this dinner dish to a whole new level of comfort food. It’s amazing how much those flavours compliment each other to create perfect culinary harmony.
Whether or not you soak the beans the day before or use canned beans, this Creamed Kale Gnocchi comes together in minutes and is packed full of protein and nutrition. It’s a complete dinner in one pot, no other side dishes are necessary.
Ingredients for this Dish
This is a great dish to make when you have ham leftovers. There’s just something about pork and beans that goes so well together, add in the kale and cream and this gnocchi dish is over the top comfort food.
- Great Northern Beans
- Olive Oil
- Bread Crumbs
- Pine Nuts
The beauty of this simple dish is how easy it is to put together. Using a package of store-bought gnocchi is the most convenient option and I always have one in the pantry, just for easy recipes like this one.
I realize not everyone loves kale. However, this nutritional powerhouse shines in this recipe. You can use other hardy greens such as spinach or Swiss Chard in place of the kale.
Leftover ham is perfect in this recipe, but you can head over to the deli section of your grocery store and ask for two thick cut deli ham slices if you don’t have any leftovers.
I used Great Northern Beans in this recipe. However, you can also use cooked Navy Beans or Cannellini Beans instead. Cook your own from dried or buy canned beans.
The flavours in this recipe come mostly from aromatics such as garlic and shallots. You can use onion in place of the shallots if you prefer.
This recipe is a dairy lovers dream. It contains butter, cream, and milk. There’s no cheese in this recipe. However, if you wish to add some into the béchamel sauce, I suggest some finely grated Parmesan, Pecorino, or Grana Padano. The topping is a simple toasted bread crumb pangrattato with pine nuts. However, you can also top it with cheese, if you like.
What are Great Northern Beans?
For this recipe, I have chosen Great Northern Beans, grown here in Southern Alberta. This versatile medium sized white bean thrives in cooler northern climates. In size, Great Northern Beans are slightly larger than a Navy Bean, but smaller than a Cannellini Bean. They are slightly related to kidney beans, so they have a distinctly flattened slightly kidney shape, like a Lima bean.
Also called ‘Large White’, Great Northern Beans are one of the oldest dry beans grown in North America. They are a very hearty bean and are perfect for stews, soups, purées, and salads. Great Northern Beans are known for their mild, nutty flavor and firm flesh. Additionally, they retain their shape better than Navy Beans and readily absorb flavours of the foods they are cooked with.
How to Cook Dried Beans
Not everyone is comfortable or has the time to cook beans from scratch. When you’re busy, it’s so much easier to open a can instead of soaking, then simmering beans for hours. Canned beans work in any recipe, including this one so…you do you.
However, what I and so many others love about dried beans is how inexpensive they are. They also store for up to a year in the pantry, which is good news for people like me who have a fully stocked pantry. Note that the longer beans are stored, the more moisture they lose which will inevitably increase their soaking and cooking times.
Soak the Beans
That said, it is very easy to cook dried beans. All it takes is time and water. I like to start soaking beans just before I go to bed. I also highly recommend setting a reminder alarm on your phone! Bring 1 cup of beans to a boil in 3 cups of unsalted water, then turn them off and let them soak overnight.
In the morning, your beans should have absorbed most of the water. They will be plump and will split in half when slight pressure is applied. If they don’t split, you may need to soak for longer.
Simmer the Beans
Once the beans are done soaking, drain and rinse them with cold water. Then, place them back in the pot and add water, filling the pot until the beans are covered with roughly two inches of water.
Bring the beans to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low to a gentle simmer.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Great Northern Beans?
How long it takes to cook beans will depend on how they will be used. It is important to try the beans throughout the cooking process to determine when they are finished cooking.
If you are adding them to a soup or stew, they will need less simmering time, roughly 45-90 minutes (depending on how old the beans are). They should still have a slight bite to them before you cook them in the soup or stew.
For this Creamed Kale Gnocchi recipe, the beans need to to be fully cooked. This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. You might need to add more boiling water during this time to ensure the beans stay covered as they cook. When fully cooked, the beans will have a slightly grainy, yet not unpleasant texture.
How to Make Creamed Kale Gnocchi with Beans
Wash the kale, then let it air dry as you chop the garlic, shallots, and ham. Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the gnocchi as per package directions. Drain, reserving the hot liquid.
In a large skillet, toast the pine nuts until fragrant over medium heat. Remove and set aside. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in the same skillet and then add the breadcrumbs. Toast them until they are golden. Set aside.
Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems and roughly chop the kale, then preheat the oven to 350 F.
To make the béchamel sauce, wipe the skillet out then melt the butter on medium heat. Add 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and cook the garlic and shallots for a minute or two.
Scatter in the flour. Cook, stirring for a minute or two, then whisk in the heavy cream and milk. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the nutmeg and more hot pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.
Assemble the Creamed Kale Gnocchi
Add the chopped kale and ham to the sauce, stirring occasionally as the kale softens. Season with salt and pepper. Once the kale is soft and the sauce coats the kale, add in the gnocchi and beans, then stir to distribute. Stir in more pasta water if the sauce seems too thick.
Transfer to an oven safe baking dish (or use the skillet). Top with breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Finally, bake the dish in 350 F. oven for ten minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly. Broil slightly if the top needs a bit more colour.
If you make this Creamed Kale Gnocchi with White Beans, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 1 pkg gnocchi (500 g or 18 oz)
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern Beans or Navy Beans
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked ham; cubed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 shallots
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley to garnish
- *hot pasta water for thinning the sauce
- Wash the kale, then let it air dry as you chop the garlic, shallots, and ham.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the gnocchi as per package directions. Drain, reserving the hot liquid.
- In a large skillet, toast the pine nuts until fragrant over medium heat. Remove and set aside.
- Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in the same skillet and then add the breadcrumbs. Toast them until they are golden. Set aside.
- Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems and roughly chop the kale.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Wipe the skillet out then melt the butter on medium heat. Add 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and cook the garlic and shallots for a minute or two.
- Scatter in the flour. Cook stirring for a minute or two then whisk in the heavy cream and milk. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the nutmeg and more hot pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.
- Add the chopped kale and ham to the sauce, stirring occasionally as the kale softens. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the kale is soft and the sauce should coats the kale, add in the cooked gnocchi and beans and stir to distribute. Stir in more pasta water if the sauce seems too thick.
- Transfer to an oven safe baking dish (or use the skillet). Top with breadcrumbs and pine nuts.
- Bake in 350 F. oven for ten minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly. Broil slightly if the top needs a bit more colour.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 562Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 707mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 13gSugar: 5gProtein: 27g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.