A Mediterranean one-skillet dinner that’s quick, easy, and healthy
We’re enjoying summer’s bounty of vegetables and herbs in our part of the world. But the weather is unremittingly hot, so we don’t want to spend much time cooking.
Fortunately, we have stir-fry. It’s a quick and easy way to showcase almost any vegetable you can think of.
This dish takes only about 20 minutes total for prep and cooking. Stress-free weeknight dinner, anyone?
Recipe: Summer White Bean and Vegetable Stir-Fry
OK, this dish may not technically be a stir-fry. But it’s pretty similar. If you prefer, you can call it a sauté. Or a one-skillet dinner. Us? We’re going with stir-fry.
We use tomatoes and basil in this dish, but you can alter the ingredients to fit whatever you have on hand (or happen to fancy). We offer a few suggestions in the Notes.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Cooking time adds another 10 minutes.
This recipe yields 2 to 3 main-course servings. You could also serve this dish as a side, in which case the recipe would yield at least 4 to 6 servings.
Leftovers keep for a couple of days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 1 onion (medium or large)
- 1 to 3 cloves garlic (to taste)
- ~1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or more to taste)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 15-ounce can white beans (or other beans of choice; see Notes)
- ~½ cup fresh basil, packed (or to taste)
- black pepper to taste (maybe half a dozen grinds for us)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
- Peel the onion, cut it in half, then cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and cut it into thin slices or mince finely. Set aside.
- Wash the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half through the poles. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium stovetop heat. When it’s hot, add the oil. When the oil has heated (it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions. Add salt to taste. Sauté for 4 minutes (we usually set a timer).
- While the onions are cooking, open the beans and pour them into a strainer or colander that you’ve set in the sink. Rinse off the gunk the beans are stored in, then let them drain.
- Prepare the basil: Wash the basil, shake it dry, and remove the leaves from their stems. Mince the basil leaves finely (you may want to reserve a few leaves for garnish).
- When the timer goes off, add the chopped garlic to the skillet. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Then add the tomatoes to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the beans and the chopped basil. Stir to combine. Cook another minute or two (just until the beans are warm).
- Dish up! Garnish with basil leaves, if you wish. We like to serve this dish with a bowl of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese so people can sprinkle some over their plates if they like.
- The flavor of the olive oil really comes through in this dish, so use something of good quality. And use more than you ordinarily would to sauté veggies – the olive oil combines with juice from the tomatoes to make a light sauce.
- Want sauce with a bit more body? You could stir in about half the grated cheese when you add the beans to the skillet (Step 8). Stir frequently so the cheese doesn’t clump together.
- Prefer to go vegan? Skip the cheese, but add about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to finish the dish.
- We think white beans work best in this dish, but you can use any kind that you have on hand.
- You can adapt this dish for use as a pasta sauce: Make the dish while you’re cooking the pasta (we suggest using a fun shape, like farfalle). Include the beans or not, as you prefer. When you drain the pasta, reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan, then toss with the tomato mixture. You’ll probably want to add about ½ cup of the pasta water to make the dish “saucier.” Dish up and serve – definitely with Parmigiano-Reggiano in this case.
- You can make a version of this dish with almost any veggie (but always start with the onions and garlic). You could sauté zucchini or eggplant instead of tomatoes. Basil would go well with both of those. Or you could substitute another herb of choice – thyme, for example, would be excellent.
- Or you could use cooked green beans and leftover boiled potatoes (diced). Maybe add some corn or peas.
- Don’t want to use beans? Leftover chicken (cut into pieces) would make an excellent substitute. (Chicken would go particularly well if you’re using green beans and potatoes). Leftover pork or beef roast would work too, as would fish or shrimp.
- Want to use meat, but don’t have leftovers? Just cut the meat into small pieces and stir-fry it as the first step (as in Asian stir-fry). Remove the meat when it’s cooked, add more oil if necessary, then proceed with cooking the onions and other veggies.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s coarser than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume (its larger crystals don’t pack a measure as tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- We like to serve this dish as a main course for dinner. When we do so, a big serving of this is sufficient for us. But you could add some crusty bread and a glass of wine to the menu, if you’d like. And maybe some fruit for dessert.
Mothers of Fry-ation
“Yum!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Call any vegetable.”
“And the chances are good it will respond,” I said. “By jumping into the frying pan for this dish.”
“Love summer-fresh produce,” said Mrs K R. “After all, why is a vegetable something to hide?
“Been listening to old tunes again, eh?” I said. “That one is mint.”
“Yeah, it’s a big dill,” said Mrs K R. “So don’t forget the herbs.”
That’s Mrs K R. Sage.
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