Food & dining

Sunday supper

Cornish hens with beans turn into a hearty pasta

Cornish hens with cranberry beans and kale recipe by Sally Pasley Vargas.
Sally Pasley Vargas
Cornish hens with cranberry beans and kale recipe by Sally Pasley Vargas.

Stylish single servings of Cornish hens on a bed of greens and beans carry the festive spirit of the holidays forward into the new year without a trace of eater’s remorse. These little birds, which are actually domestic chickens bred to mature in a shorter time than regular chickens, have a good portion of juicy white breast meat. Soak dried cranberry beans, also known as borlotti beans, overnight and simmer them until tender to serve with the birds. If canned beans are a staple in your pantry, these will be a revelation. They’re beanier than canned and full of flavor cooked with just onion, carrot, and celery. Kale adds heartiness and a bit of green.

Because some small eaters will only want half a hen, you may have some meat left over. If not, you still have plenty of extra beans and the juices from roasting the hens to make a pot of the classic Italian dish pasta e fagiole (sometimes called pasta fazool). Add more kale to the pot and you have another healthy meal that won’t upset your New Year’s resolutions.

Shopping list


(For hens, pasta, and beans)

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4 Cornish hens (about 1¼
pounds each)

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 bunches fresh kale

1½ medium onions


1 carrot

1 stalk celery

2 plum tomatoes

2 lemons

1 bunch fresh rosemary


2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

6 ounces (1½ cups) small
pasta such as ditalini, mini
penne, or elbow macaroni

1 pound (2½ cups) dried
cranberry or borlotti beans

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at