We use corona beans in this terrific main/side – but any white bean will work
Nothing brings out savor like roasting. Today we’re applying its magic to white beans and eggplant. With some spicy tomato sauce to liven things up.
We like to serve this dish as a main course (if you go that route, you might also want to add a salad and/or some crusty bread). But it also makes an excellent side dish.
However you serve it, we suggest adding a glass of wine. Just so you can offer a proper toast: Buon appetito!
Recipe: Roast White Beans and Eggplant with Tomato
We love roast veggies (see, for example, our recipe for Roast Eggplant). We also like roast beans (particularly white beans), which become brown and crisp — even crusty — in the oven. We've never posted about them, though. So we're remedying that oversight today.
Our recipe combines white beans with eggplant and tomatoes, creating a dish that's kinda sort like a bean version of Pasta alla Norma.
There are two steps to this recipe: Roasting the white beans and eggplant (which you can do together on a sheet pan). And preparing the tomato sauce, which can cook while you’re roasting.
We like to use corona beans in this dish (if you don’t know about them, see our recipe for Italian Corona Bean Salad). But cannellini or great northern beans would be a dandy substitute. Or use any other bean that sounds good to you – it’s always fun to play with your food.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 25 minutes or so.
This recipe yields 2 to 3 hearty main-course servings, or about 6 side-dish servings.
For the roast white beans and eggplant:
- ~2 cups cooked white beans
- ~1 pound eggplant, cut into dice of about 1 inch
- olive oil to taste (a couple of tablespoons)
- salt to taste (maybe 2 teaspoons kosher salt; see Notes)
- black pepper to taste (a dozen or so grinds for us; to taste)
For the tomato sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced or thinly sliced
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced or thinly sliced (to taste)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or to taste)
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- a handful of basil, minced
- extra basil for garnish (optional)
- First, roast the white beans and eggplant: Preheat the oven on to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (to make cleanup easier). Toss the white beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread the beans out over half of the sheet pan (spacing them so they’re not touching). Now toss the diced eggplant with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread the eggplant pieces out on the other half of the sheet pan (again, spacing them so they’re not touching).
- Place the sheet pan in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn the beans and eggplant, then roast for another 10 minutes (or more to taste; do make sure the interior of the eggplant is fully cooked – see Notes). When done, remove the sheet pan from the oven.
- While the beans and eggplant are roasting, prepare the tomato sauce: Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is heated (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onion. Season to taste with salt. Sauté until the onion is translucent (5 minutes or a bit more). Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes and the thyme, stirring them in to mix. Then add the tomatoes and stir to mix. Simmer the sauce until the beans and eggplant are done.
- Add the roasted beans and eggplant to the tomato mixture. Stir to combine, then simmer for about 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle.
- Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add the chopped basil, then stir to combine.
- Serve, adding extra basil for garnish if you wish.
- You can roast the beans and eggplant hours ahead of time if you wish. Then just add them to the tomato sauce near the end of cooking (to warm them and let their flavors mingle with the tomatoes).
- The tomato sauce cooks quickly – no long simmering needed. We always prepare it while the beans and eggplant are roasting.
- BTW, if you have homemade tomato sauce on hand (or a good-quality commercial one in the pantry), you could substitute that for our sauce. Use about 1½ cups, maybe two.
- Exact quantities are not crucial in this recipe. So adjust to taste.
- Don’t have fresh basil available? Chopped flat-leaf parsley would work as a substitute.
- Underdone eggplant tastes somewhat unpleasant, so make sure yours is fully cooked before you serve it. It’s OK to pull the eggplant from the oven before it’s completely done, though – it will continue to cook in the tomato sauce.
- When is eggplant done? When it’s fully tender – meaning you can stick a knife or fork into without any resistance.
- A lot of older cookbooks suggest salting eggplant and letting it sit for half an hour or so before cooking. This allows the salt to draw out bitter juices. But we’ve haven’t bought a “bitter” eggplant in years – the varieties grown today seem just fine to us. So we always skip this step. (See our post on Roast Eggplant for more discussion about this.)
- Eggplant is available throughout the year, but late summer and early fall tends to be peak season. So now is the time to make this dish!
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love me some roast veggies,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And white beans are prime roasting material.”
“Yup, I was using the old bean when I came up with this recipe,” I said.
“Holy frijole,” said Mrs K R. “I may need some pepper flakes to make that comment palatable.”
“Just displaying my aubergenius,” I said.
“That ‘joke’ doesn’t amount to a hill of beans,” said Mrs K R.
She knows how to roast me.
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