Escarole with White Beans

1 head escarole, dark green outer leaves discarded, inner leaves separated and trimmed of dark green tops
1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
2 or 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
a few springs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 or 2 cups cooked white beans with some of their cooking liquid or a small ladleful of water
Salt and pepper

For the beans
Soak beans overnight or at least 4 hours. Drain the beans and put them into a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover them with cold water by 2 inches or so. Add garlic, thyme, if using, and bay leaves. Bring the beans just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and very gently simmer them until they are swollen and tender, 30–90 minutes (or more), depending on the freshness of the dried beans. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in a generous pinch of salt. Let the beans cool to just warm or to room temperature in the cooking liquid.

For the escarole
Wash the escarole leaves well and shake off some of the water. Put the olive oil and garlic into a large nonreactive skillet and warm over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes and the escarole and cook briefly, turning the leaves as they begin to wilt. Add the beans and their cooking liquid or water, season with salt and pepper, and braise just until the beans are warmed through and the escarole is still bright and colorful, 3–5 minutes.

Recipe from Canal House Cooking volume 6