Cheesy White-Bean Pizza
Today in Jeff’s Quarantine Kitchen…
The New York Times Cooking section (@NYTCooking, recipe by Ali Slagle) calls this dish “Cheesy White-Bean Tomato Bake.” So I gotta’ tell ya’ folks, that title just doesn’t grab my attention.
Nope! Not even a little bit.
Let’s be honest here. If you saw that title on a recipe, would you be compelled to make it for your family? The same night you stumbled across it on someone’s Pinterest page? Not me.
What caught my attention was the photo, proving once again that a picture is worth…well, you know.
What it looked like in the photo was a bubbly, crispy, pebbly, yummy-looking pizza. And who can’t resist reading a recipe that is topped with a beauteous picture of a steaming-hot, bubbling mass of mozzarella? Certainly not me.
But reading further, what I discovered was that this dish looked like it might be the best-looking white-bean stew I have ever seen; it was, after all, white-bean stew that had me browsing all those Pinterest pages in the first place. But I just couldn’t find one that would suit the dreadfully picky tastes that are currently taking up residence and space in our empty nest.
But this dish looked so good in the photo that if it had been topped with pepperoni or caramelized onions and peppers, I might have been tempted to break out an actual Corona or two (see what I did there?). In fact, it looked so good that I decided right then and there that it was going to be dinner tonight; I already had the white beans soaking on the stove top and I had been, so far, uninspired.
So, cheesy white-bean pizza.
It’s not really a pizza; there isn’t a beautifully thin and crispy crust—actually, it’s more like a protein-laden, gluten-free, deep-dish thing, a pizza in name only. Rather it’s a casserole masquerading as a pizza-flavored white-bean stew. Plus, if you make it right the bottom just might get a crispy crust anyway.
And it’s delicious. You can make it simple—just the base ingredients, or add whatever toppings and fillings that suit your whimsy; I’m thinking next time I might go Tex-Mex-style, adding a can of chopped green chilies to the tomatoes or replacing the tomatoes with salsa, adding a jolt of cilantro and using Jack cheese instead of mozzarella. Just imagine the possibilities.
And try this one at home. Here’s the plan…
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup boiling water
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 cups washed baby spinach
- 1 8-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- A few fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ pound mozzarella, coarsely grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
- Very thin slices of red onion, or Caramelized onion jam for topping (see recipe from 3/17)
- Heat the oven to 475 degrees. In a 10-inch ovenproof (I used cast iron) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Fry the garlic until it’s lightly golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste (be careful of splattering) and fry for 30 seconds, reducing the heat as needed to prevent the garlic from burning.
- Add the beans, water, tomatoes, spinach, and generous pinches of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top, spread the onion jam (or thinly sliced red onions) over the cheese, then bake until the cheese has melted and browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. If the top is not as toasted as you’d like, run the skillet under the broiler for a minute or 2. Serve at once.
PS: and by the way, we fed the sourdough starter again this morning, with three tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of water (dechlorinated, remember?). It’s growing. In fact, it looks like any day now it might take over the kitchen.