Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake
This cheesy white bean tomato bake is an easy to make, 30 minute meal that your whole family will love. With canned beans, canned tomatoes, and only a little bit of chopping, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
This one pan recipe is the marriage of a cheesy bean bake and pasta puttanesca with its olives, capers, and red pepper flakes. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and serve with crusty semolina bread and a side salad for a complete meal. It’s an easy weeknight dinner that both you and your family will love.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy
- Meat free
This cheesy white bean tomato bake was adapted from the recipe with the same name by Ali Slagle in the New York Times cooking app. While that 15 minute recipe wins for convenience, it is pretty flat in flavor.
Pasta puttanesca or spaghetti alla puttanesca is a dish that comes from Naples, Italy around World War II. Although the name is known to mean “in the style of a prostitute,” the actual origin is unclear. Perhaps it’s because the sauce, made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, capers, dried red pepper flakes, and sometimes with anchovies, is just a bit spicy…
There are a few more ingredients in this cheesy white bean tomato bake than in the original. But it keeps its focus on convenience.
- Canned white beans for convenience – use cannellini or Great Northern.
- Chopped tomatoes – buy fire-roasted tomatoes if you can, for a bit more flavor.
- Olives – use Kalamata or another black olive. Pitted olives save even more time!
- Mozzarella – shredded cheese works better than fresh mozzarella because it melts more evenly.
- Parmesan – it’s always best to grate your own. Just say no to the green can!
Tip from the wise quacker: with canned tomatoes, whole tomatoes are usually the best choice because only good quality tomatoes can be canned whole. In this recipe, which prizes convenience, use chopped tomatoes.
Substitutions and variations
- Use dried beans in place of canned. Soak your beans overnight and then cook them in a pot of salted water for two or so hours until soft.
- Skip the cheese and add anchovies to make it a true puttanesca.
Recipe tips and tricks
Step by step
To make the tomato sauce for the bean bake, first cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for a minute over medium low heat until it starts to become fragrant (Panel #1, below). Be careful not to burn the garlic, or it will become bitter. Add the chopped olives and capers and cook for another minute (Panel #2).
Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium, and cook for about five minutes until the liquid thickens a bit (Panel #3, above). Turn off the heat and stir in the drained white beans (Panel #4).
Stir in the mozzarella (Panel #1, below) and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over top (Panel #2).
Bake for ten minutes in a 450 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on chopped basil or parsley. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.
What to serve with this cheesy white bean tomato bake:
- crusty white bread like this semolina bread or pretzel bread to sop up the sauce.
- a simple side salad, peach burrata Caprese salad, or rainbow salad bowl.
- if you eat meat, add these easy pan-roasted chicken breasts.
- drink a medium-bodied Italian red or red table wine. Or have a cocktail like this Aperol Negroni or dry martini.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze for three to six months. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.
Yep! Bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms would all work well in this cheesy bean bake.
Yes, just substitute vegan cheese for the mozzarella and Parmesan.
Other related meat-free recipes
If you’re looking for easy bean recipes, check out:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup pitted black olives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more as needed
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more as desired
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more as desired
- 28 ounce chopped tomatoes
- 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained.
- 1 cup shredded dried mozzarella or fresh mozzarella, chopped small
- ¼ cup Parmesan, grated
- ¼ cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe saute pan. Then add the the garlic and cook over medium-low heat for one minute.1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Add the olives, capers, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for one minute.½ cup pitted black olives, chopped, 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Add the canned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer under medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced somewhat.28 ounce chopped tomatoes
- Add the beans and stir them into the tomatoes.2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained.
- Turn off the heat and stir the mozzarella into the beans.1 cup shredded dried mozzarella
- Top with Parmesan and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes until the Parmesan is starting to brown.¼ cup Parmesan, grated
- Garnish with the chopped basil or parsley and serve immediately.¼ cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped
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I too tried this recipe from the NYT and found it a bit flat, at which point I shrugged and walked away. Totally going to try it again now, though–thanks! 🙂
Hi Catherine. Thanks for the note! I do love how you can get the NYT recipe to the table in 15 minutes, but I’m willing to trade a little bit of chopping for flavor. Would love to hear your thoughts if/when you make this! Joanne