Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake

This cheesy white bean tomato bake is an easy to make, 30 minute, vegetarian 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.

Recipe source

This recipe was adapted from the recipe with the same name by Ali Slagle in the New York Times cooking app. While that recipe wins for convenience, timing out in 15 minutes, it is relatively flat in flavor.

This adaptation was inspired by pasta puttanesca and adds tomatoes, olives, capers, and red pepper flakes. The pan of beans is topped with Parmesan before baking. And it’s finished off with chopped parsley or basil.

a pan full of cheesy beans next to slices of crusty bread.

Flight school: pasta 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 of the name and pasta sauce is unclear. Perhaps it’s because the sauce, made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, capers, dried red pepper flakes, and some times with anchovies, is just a bit spicy…

Tips and tricks


There are a few more ingredients in this cheesy white bean tomato bake than in the original. But it keeps its focus on convenience with the canned beans.

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 case, chopped tomatoes add to the convenience.

Buy fire-roasted tomatoes if you can, for a bit more flavor. Similarly, shredded mozzarella cheese works better in this recipe than fresh mozzarella because it melts more evenly.

ingredients for the cheesy bean tomato bake in bowls on a cutting board.

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).

four panels showing steps in making the sauce for the cheesy bean bake.

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).

two panels showing addition of mozzarella to the pan with white beans and tomato sauce and topping with Parmesan.

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.

a large saute pan filled with tomatoes, white beans, cheese, and sprinkled with basil next to a few slices of crusty white bread.

What to serve with this

Serve this cheesy white bean tomato bake with:

  • crusty white bread like this semolina bread to sop up the sauce
  • a side salad
  • a medium-bodied Italian red or red table wine

Substitutions and variations

  • Use dried beans in place of canned. Soak beans overnight and then cook 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.

Related recipes

If you’re looking for easy bean recipes, check out these baked purple sweet potatoes with cheesy white beans, my BBQ quinoa and pinto bean burgers, this easy garbanzo bean soup, or these Mediterranean-inspired white bean and quinoa balls with pine nuts and raisins.

Cheesy White Bean Tomato Bake

5 from 1 vote
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 332kcal
This cheesy vegetarian main course brings together white beans, tomatoes, and lots of cheese for a quick and easy weeknight dinner sure to please the family.
Print Recipe


  • 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
  • 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


Serve this cheesy white bean tomato bake with:
  • crusty white bread to sop up the sauce
  • a side salad
  • a medium-bodied Italian red or red table wine


Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 1221mg | Potassium: 1133mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 511IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 514mg | Iron: 7mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

What’s next

If you make this cheesy white bean tomato bake, please leave a comment and a rating. Pretty please.

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    1. 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

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