Roasted tomato and white bean stew is a dish that will make your belly happy year-round. It’s hearty enough to warm up your body and soul after a walk in the snow and light enough to enjoy on the deck for a summer dinner with fresh garden tomatoes and a glass of rosé.
Try to follow my recipe step-by-step the first time, and then adjust it to your liking. I’ll give some tips and hints to elevate it from here, but this basic tomato with beans stew is pretty darn tasty already.
1/2 c flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp (one lemon) lemon zest, finely grated
1-1/4 lb whole cherry tomatoes
1/4 c olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
White Bean Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (1/2 c) chopped red onion (yellow onion works, too)
4 cloves garlic (1 Tbsp), minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 (15-oz) cans white beans (such as cannellini), rinsed
1-1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
2 c baby spinach (optional)
Deep skillet (or Dutch oven)
Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew
This tasty dish comes together in three steps, all easy and forgiving (an excellent recipe for beginners), and only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.
Chop the parsley as finely as possible and grate the yellow part of the lemon rind with the smallest side of the cheese grater available. If you have a lemon zester, use it. Mix in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat (toaster) oven to 400℉. Mix tomatoes with olive oil directly in the baking pan. Sprinkle with chopped sage, salt, and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes smell heavenly, look wrinkly, start bursting, and slightly collapse. You get the idea. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a deep skillet, over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Next, add red pepper flakes, tomato paste (or anchovies), and garlic (if you add the garlic at the beginning with the onions, they’ll burn, and you certainly don’t want to burn the garlic). Stir for another 2 minutes.
Then, add beans and chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer (uncovered) for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s time to taste. It probably needs 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Taste again.
Before serving (okay, there’s a 4th step 😄)
Add the roasted tomatoes (with all the pan juices) to the skillet, give it a good stir, and simmer (uncovered) for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste again. Maybe it needs a little more salt. If using, add the baby spinach just for the last couple of minutes.
Serve with some toasted bread, and don’t forget to garnish with the lemon zest-parsley mixture.
Tips, Tricks, and Variations
Soup versus Stew
If it feels too “soupy” and you’d like it a little more “stewy,” use the spatula or a potato masher and mash some of the mixture until it reaches your desired thickness. You can also let it simmer (uncovered) for a longer time, which will thicken it up by evaporating more liquid.
What’s the difference between cherry and grape tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes are one of my favorite tomatoes to grow in the garden. When they reach peak ripeness, a warm cherry tomato of the vine is a treat. Their delicate skin will release the sweet juices at first bite. Their shape is round.
Grape tomatoes are oblong and have a thicker skin. I find that they have a little less flavor than cherry tomatoes, but they sure last quite a while in the fridge. This brings me to the following topic:
What does roasting tomatoes do to their flavor?
Roasting tomatoes in olive oil will concentrate their flavors in general and their sweetness in particular. Yes, it’s correct that you’re losing some vitamin C by cooking tomatoes in general. But you’re gaining lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of many types of cancer.
You might ask yourself, why not just add the tomatoes with the beans to the pot and skip the roasting. Less work and less to clean up, correct? This assumption is right, but there is even less: less flavor and less depth.
How to make this dish even better by adding umami with tomato paste or anchovies
The famous umami taste. The mysterious 5th taste. Umami is earthy (mushrooms), rotten (kimchi), funky (blue cheese), savory (tomatoes), and however you would describe the taste of anchovies.
Whenever I make a tomato-based dish, I try to sneak in some tomato paste or anchovies to add umami. If you don’t like to use a messy, oily tin or jar of anchovies, your grocery most likely carries anchovy paste in a convenient tube. Conversion: 1 anchovy fillet = 1/2 tsp anchovy paste.
Add cooked sausage or roasted mushrooms
As I mentioned in the beginning, that’s the beauty of this recipe. Roast some mushrooms together with the tomatoes and add to the stew. Chop up some pre-cooked kielbasa and add toward the end to warm them up. And so on.
Parsley substitute and other notes on herbs
Growing herbs is one of the easiest things you can do to have a fresh kick of flavor available at any time. If you have the room, time, and love taking care of plants, create a beautiful herb garden in your backyard. Besides the essential (personal opinion) herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, plant some lavender and sage and let them go to flower in fall. Bees and butterflies will be thankful.
If your space and time are limited, you can still grow a couple of herbs in pots on your balcony or even indoors on a window sill that receives some sunlight.
Herbs can easily be mixed and matched; if you don’t have the one mentioned in a recipe, use a different one. Here’s a quick list of the most common herb substitutions:
Parsley: chervil or cilantro
Basil: oregano or thyme
Chives: green onion, onion
Rosemary: thyme, tarragon
Sage: poultry seasoning, savory, marjoram, or rosemary
Thyme: basil, marjoram, oregano
Oregano: thyme or basil
Mint: basil, marjoram, or rosemary
Italian seasoning: basil, oregano, or rosemary
To rinse or not to rinse (canned beans)
It depends. If you use a low-sodium can of beans and the recipe requires some cooking liquid, it’s okay to use it. It’s very starchy and will help to thicken the soup.
In general, though, rinse the beans by pouring the contents of the can into a strainer, then rinse with cold water.
As always, use this recipe as a guideline and inspiration. Then adjust the flavors to your preference. Make it your own. You can do it!
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- The Best, Crispy, Succulent, Umami Chicken Thighs
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Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew
- Toaster oven
- Baking pan
- Deep skillet (or Dutch oven)
- 1/2 c flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tsp (1 lemon) lemon zest, finely grated
- 1-1/4 lb whole cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
White Bean Stew
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 c chopped red onion (yellow onion works too) - (about 1 onion)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 (15 - oz) cans white beans (such as cannellini), rinsed
- 1-1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 c baby spinach (optional)
- Chop the parsley as finely as possible and grate the yellow part of the lemon rind with the smallest side of the cheese grater available. If you have a lemon zester, use it.
- Mix in a bowl and set aside.
- Preheat (toaster) oven to 400℉.
- Mix tomatoes with olive oil directly in the baking pan.
- Sprinkle with chopped sage, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes look wrinkly, start bursting, and slightly collapse. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a deep skillet, over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onions and cook and stir for about 3 minutes.
- Next, add red pepper flakes, tomato paste (or anchovies), and garlic.
- Stir for another 2 minutes.
- Then, add beans and chicken or vegetable stock.
- Bring to a simmer and let it simmer (uncovered) for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- It’s time to taste. It probably needs 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Taste again.
- Add the roasted tomatoes (with all the pan juices) to the skillet, give it a good stir, and simmer (uncovered) for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste again. Maybe it needs a little more salt.
- If using, add the baby spinach just for the last couple of minutes.
- Serve with some toasted bread, and don’t forget to garnish with the lemon zest-parsley mixture. Enjoy!
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