This Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake recipe makes an easy, one-pan, 30-minute meal. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and serve with a garlic bread baguette and a side salad for a complete meal. With canned beans, canned tomatoes, and only a little bit of chopping, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
Read on for detailed steps, tips, and tricks and to learn all about the racy pasta sauce that inspired this recipe. Or just grab your one pan, hit that jump to recipe button, and let’s get cooking a cheesy white bean tomato bake!
There are a few more ingredients in this cheesy white bean tomato bake than in the original. But if you read any of the 1000+ comments in the New York Times recipe, you’ll understand!
- Canned white beans for convenience – use cannellini or Great Northern.
- Chopped tomatoes – buy fire-roasted tomatoes for a bit more flavor, if you can. Or amp up the tomato flavor with a bit of tomato paste.
- 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. Feel free to buy pre-packaged or shred your own.
- Parmesan – it’s always best to grate your own.
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 quick and easy recipes, it’s ok to use chopped tomatoes.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and variations
- Chop a shallot finely and lightly cook it with the garlic.
- Feel free to throw in some dried basil, oregano, rosemary, or thyme into the pan when you add the olives.
- Add a handful of greens like spinach or kale when you stir in the mozzarella.
- Use dried beans in place of canned in this cheesy bean bake. 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 a true puttanesca white bean tomato bake.
Recipe tips and tricks
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 flat in flavor.
To make that recipe something you’ll want to make again and again, I’ve married the ease of the cheesy white bean tomato bake with puttanesca. 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.
Step by step
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Add the chopped olives and capers and cook for another minute (Panel #2).
Step 3: Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium, and cook for about five minutes until the liquid thickens a bit (Panel #3, above).
Step 4: Turn off the heat and stir in the drained white beans (Panel #4).
Step 5: Stir in the mozzarella (Panel #1, below) and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over top (Panel #2).
Step 6: 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, raw carrot 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. They’ll just take a bit of time to cook.
Sure. You could even cook the pasta in the beans if it’s a quick-cooking macaroni.
Yes, just substitute vegan cheese for the mozzarella and Parmesan.
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 canned 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 canned 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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