The other day, my “Daily Briefing” email from The New York Times led me to a recipe for a Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake. The photo accompanying the recipe looked so good that I simply had to make the dish that night.
When I started to cook, however, I began to find elements of the recipe that I needed or wanted to change. First off, because my pantry only had one can of cannellini beans, I had to substitute a can of chickpeas for the second can called for by the recipe. I believe this forced change was fortuitous since the chickpeas added another layer of flavor to the dish.
Next, I thought that cooking the garlic in heated oil for only one minute over medium-high heat wouldn’t yield the depth of flavor as would adding the garlic to unheated oil and slowly simmering it over low heat for five of six minutes. I similarly extended the time for “frying” the tomato paste from 30 seconds to a minute and a half, but made sure that the tomato paste didn’t burn by stirring it.
In addition, to add a little heat, I added a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to simmer with the garlic and oil.
In the recipe’s second step, I opted for the longer cooking time in the oven, a full ten minutes, at which point the mozzarella had started to melt. And as the recipe had anticipated, the cheese still was not as toasted as depicted in the recipe’s photo, so as suggested, I ran the skillet under the broiler for at least 2 minutes.
Although the final dish was very good, a perfect comfort food, I believe the recipe still needs some tweaking. Perhaps rendering some pancetta at the beginning or using a smoked mozzarella would do the trick. I’ll let you know how it turns out the next time around.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 generous tablespoons double concentrated Italian tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup boiling water
Kosher salt and black pepper
⅓ pound mozzarella, coarsely grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
1) In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, simmer the olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes over low heat, until the garlic turns slightly golden, about 5 or 6 minutes.\
2) Raise the heat to medium low and stir in the tomato paste (be careful of splattering) and fry for 1 ½ minutes, reducing the heat as needed to prevent the garlic from burning.
3) Add the beans, water and generous pinches of salt and pepper and stir to combine.
4) Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top, then bake until the cheese has melted and browned in spots, approximately 10 minutes.
5) If the top is not as toasted as you’d like, run the skillet under the broiler for a 1 to 2 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning.
Serve at once with crusty bread.
Wine Pairing: Zinfandel, Primativo
16 thoughts on “Cheesy Bean & Tomato Bake”
Thanks, Diane, for your kind words. Those beans look delicious.
May get a deeper flavour by adding a splash of smoked paprika to the oil, garlic and tomato base, keeping it vegan at the same time. I also added a few campari tomatoes to the oil and paste to sautee, and melt in, adding a sweeter tomato flavour.
Great suggestions. I especially like the idea of adding some smoked paprika or pimenton to the oil.
I would add some parmesan cheese on the top. Thanks for writing this up, I wanted the NYT recipe but I couldn’t get past the paywall! 😉
The parmesan is a great idea! Glad you enjoyed.
I wonder if you could sup a small can of diced tomatoes for the water.
I’m not sure, William; the boiling water is used to dilute the concentrated tomato paste. Please let me know how you decide.
Thank you SO MUCH for posting this recipe. I have a NYT subscription, but not for the recipes. I saw this the other day and was pining away for the entire recipe.
You’re welcome; hope you enjoy, This is one of our favorites.
I just made this with garbanzos only, since that is what I had on hand and we can’t get groceries easily right now (Covid-19). Also, added some ground beef that I had browned with garlic and Italian spices. Very good, also added freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This is a great one-skillet dinner, and will make again. Thank you! I am always happy when someone posts these gorgeous recipes.
Those sound like great additions to this dish. Just as you’re doing, we’re making adjustments to recipes during these trying times.
I made this recipe also. It is delicious. I really like that you post wine pairings.
It’s great to know that our readers enjoy the recipes. Thank you.
Thanks for posting the recipe and for all the comments – NYT is annoying with wanting to charge for recipes.
Thanks. Hope you enjoyed it.