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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Braised Greens with White Beans
Lentil, Quinoa, and Zucchini Salad
ZZucchini and Chickpea Stir-Fry
Summer Pasta Salad
Chickpea, Rice, and Spinach Salad
Or check out the index for more
We also had some hot days here on the California coast. That’s a great summer dish and you can call it anything you want. Thanks for sharing it.
Hi Gerlinde, we're really loving this -- had a version of it again last night! And it's so versatile -- I never make it exactly the same way twice. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have everythign but the white beans at home. Soundslike agreat dinner and a great recipe to adjust with one has on hand. I am alos spending as little time as possible in the kitchen with the heat. Next week!
Hi Evelyne, we really love this flavor combo -- and it's so easy. Also it's a great way to use all the basil in our garden -- we have loads of it this year. Nice problem to have. :-) Thanks for the comment.
And if you just tossed the white beans with veggies it would be a salad! You could even add a can of tuna. Though maybe you would choose less onion! Vegetables are so flexible.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, this is basically a warm salad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love Mediterranean flavour. This is one healthy and very delicious summer dish, John.
Hi Angie, isn't this nice? Tons of flavor, easy to make. Winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love this! We used to make a cold, uncooked version of this all the time when we lived in Italy but we lost the habit. But I love white beans and they are the best with summer tomatoes - and I love that you stir fried it! Fantastic recipe!
Hi Jamie, we've made an uncooked version of this too. But I think the stir-fry version is better -- the flavors all combine a bit more thoroughly, IMO. Thanks for the comment.
It looks refreshing, and the fact that it's one skillet makes it even more appealing. Good quality olive oil is the star of any dish and this looks no different.
Hi Mini, good olive oil is wonderful stuff! Really makes this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a great dish for the summer - so light and refreshing. Your substitutions are a perfect revamp this dish.
That's a plate of summery goodness! Love all the flavors and colors.
I never think to use beans as a side dish and that seriously needs to change. This recipe is a perfect example why - it looks amazing!
Hi Vicki, this really is a great summer dish -- it's become one of our regulars this summer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lydia, summer goodness indeed! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it's really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yes, this is exactly the kind of recipe I needed! Quick, healthy and delicious! Bill would probably need a little meat thrown in, but I'll take it as is!
HI Liz, pretty easy to add a bit of meat to this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
My kind of summer meal for sure! Love this and it's so pretty too. Great recipe John.
Hi Tricia, you'll love this! It's a pleasure to eat. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is just the perfect light summer dinner! I've been getting the BEST tomatoes lately and this is the perfect way to celebrate them!
Such a refreshing meatless dish for this hot summer!
Hi Denise, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kelsie, nothing better than a ripe tomato, is there? Love them! Thanks for the comment.
Love these kind of recipes. Easy, healthy and so so good. Perfect for summer.
Hope yo are doing well.
What a beautiful summer recipe. A friend just returned from Italy with an incredible bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for me, which would be great with this. I love the thorough notes in your posts. So helpful! Cheers!
Love these quick no fuss dinners and all of the parmesan is just what you need to finish off this dish.
Hi Asha, we're been eating this and similar recipes a lot this summer -- too hot to do much cooking! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Valentina, extra virgin olive oil is magic, isn't it? Love its flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bobbi, quick and no-fuss is what we're all about during these dog days of summer! Thanks for the comment.
When I saw this on Twitter yesterday, I wanted this meal immediately. Don't have all the ingredients on hand, but I'm going to make a special trip for them today! It's what's for dinner!
Hi Jean, this is a TERRIFIC dinner! Really tasty, really satisfying, really easy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks delicious! You can't beat all the great summer veggies! Now I will be adding the white beans to the mix. Thanks, John!
Hi Pam, white beans are wonderful with tomatoes and olive oil. And basil, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks very healthy and delicious, love beans☺
Hi Natalia, it's both! In equal amounts. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It's so hot in LA I can't even read the words stir-fry! Pray for a change in the weather. I know this salad will be delicious. GREG
Hi Greg, it's miserable here, although not as hot as in LA. Maybe I should have made a frozen dessert instead. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds delicious!!!!!!! I love beans but I can't really eat them. Especially love black eyed peas!!!!! Haven't had them in ages though because as I said, cant really consume them sadly. But I would so risk it for this recipe!
Hi GiGi, this is really good! Such a bummer that with your diet you can't eat beans. You'll just have to dream about this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Loving this dinner idea! Fast, flavorful, and scrumptious, who could ask for more?
Hi Deb, this is such a nice dish. Make it once, you'll make it a bunch of times, I bet. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I live this light and flavorful summer dinner - looks delicious!
Hi Amy, this makes a wonderful dinner! Tasty and easy -- just what we like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds wonderful. I love white beans. I really like all the options you laid out.
Hi Jeff, this is really a fun dish to play with -- so many different ways you can make it! Thanks for the comment.
That looks fabulous John and I can see you're hitting your veggies for the day! Love it. The weather has been pretty hot here too lately so anything that decreases time spend behind a hot stove is welcome!
A great, summery dish, John! And I do agree you can't go light on the olive oil in a dish like this one. Beans really soak up oil and it gives such a nice taste and mouth feel. In fact, instead of the cheese I'd drizzle some on top of my stirfry...
Hi Simone, we love veggies! And a dish like this is so appealing when the weather is as hot as it's been lately. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Frank, finishing the dish with more olive oil is a good idea! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Any dish -- especially a good-for-you-one -- that takes only 20 minutes is one for me. ;)
Hi Carolyn, tastes good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds just perfect to cook up on a hot evening!
What would we do without canned beans in our pantry, I use them all time. I've made many a dish similar to this and they always make for a nice dinner...yours would make me happy.
Hi Caroline, it is, it is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, canned beans are such a convenience, aren't they? And pretty good quality, usually. This dish makes us VERY happy! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this is indeed a nice dish for hot summer...I love the combination for stir fry vegetables and the creaminess of the white beans...such a pretty and hearty dish.
Have a wonderful week ahead!
Hi Juliana, the beans are really nice in this dish -- love their flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Until recently, I have stayed away from the larger beans, but a couple of weeks ago I cooked up a batch of large runner beans and fell in love with them. I have a bag of large white beans in the pantry that would be lovely in this salad with homegrown tomatoes, and the salad is perfect for the season. Fresh tomatoes and basil - how can you go wrong?
Hi MJ, those large runner beans are fun! We have some friends who grow some, and sometimes they share with us. :-) This has been an exceptional year for basil -- our plants look like small shrubs! A good thing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love these types of salad/meals during summer! Healthy, light and filling! Thanks!
Hi Katerina, we love them too! Thanks for the comment.
That's beautiful. And I'm not a huge meat eater, but if there had to be meat I could see a bit of prosciutto, or a little sausage. Those white beans are beautiful.
Hi Mimi, we haven't tried this with either prosciutto or sausage, but both sound wonderful. Great idea! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Those big white beans look delicious! And perfect with tomatoes and basil. Love the idea of adding pasta too.
Hi Lisa, this is good with pasta -- we sometimes make it that way. Thanks for the comment.
Add a little grilled lamb to this dish and I'd be in Seventh Heaven! Looks simple and delish!
Hi Fran, grilled lamb would be excellent with this dish! Haven't tried that, but will. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So fresh and tasty I can almost smell it coming out of the computer. Perfect meal for all this glorious sun we are having.
Hi Emma, this is really good. We're having it again for dinner tonight! Thanks for the comment.
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