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Next Turkey Day, give thanks to this small red-speckled bean, which travelled to the United States via one of the most famous ships in history, the Mayflower. After arriving on our shores in 1620, it circulated through the Carolinas and became coveted for its exceptional flavor.

Best suited for relish, salads and salsas, the Mayflower bean is now a rare treat that can transport us back to the first Thanksgiving. So put on your hat and gold-buckled shoes and enjoy the very bean the pilgrims ate when they first stepped foot in America.

Learn more about the Mayflower Bean. 

This simple recipe is too good to be a side dish. Serve it over some fresh pasta, rice or even a nice crispy piece of crostini, and it’s easily the centerpiece of the entire meal.

Mayflower Beans Sautéed with Greens & Sausage

Servings: 4-6 servings
Active: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cups of leafy greens, packed (can use kale, swish chard or spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 cups cooked Mayflower beans (see Cooked Beans recipe)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1-½ cups broth or stock
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch red chili flakes (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil followed by the sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove the sausage from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Drain excess oil from pan, leaving just enough to coat the bottom. Add the sliced garlic, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine to deglaze the pan (scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon; this helps flavor the sauce). Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add beans followed by greens and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook until greens begin to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Return sausage to pot. Let simmer a few minutes more for flavors to combine. Finish with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and optional chili flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Transfer to serving dish and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe and food photography by Andrea Branchini, @dabblingchef 

If you’re interested in growing Mayflower Beans, you can order seeds from Seeds Savers Exchange.



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