Cannellini Beans With Tomatoes and Onions
This is my favorite time of year here. The weather is perfect: sunny, low humidity, dry, days in the 70s. We’ve turned off the air conditioning and at night it’s perfect sleeping weather. You can smell fall in the air, but it won’t really be here for another two or three weeks.
There’s another reason I love September: tomato season. I’ve already mentioned that tomatoes are my favorite food, and if you’ve ever grown your own you understand why. I love eating them raw, still warm from the sun, sliced and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The cherry tomato plant I neglected all summer has been steadily rewarding me with pounds of fruit. They’re literally bursting at the seams with juice! My neighbors have their own tomato plants, too. They fertilized them with chicken dung and the plants are seven feet high! I am drowning in tomatoes. What to do with them all when you can’t eat them all raw but don’t want to hide them in pasta sauce and soup?
This dinner is so easy I feel silly for posting about it. But you will soon see why I have to share it with you. Roasting the ‘maters makes them super-sweet, the onions add crunch, and you can use herbs from your garden… you do have an herb garden, don’t you?!
Cannellini Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions
Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
1 15oz can of cannellini/white kidney beans
some tomatoes, any kind – I used cherry tomatoes that I picked right off the vine, plus 1 small yellow and 1 small heirloom from my neighbor’s garden
1 small red onion (or 1/2 medium-large red onion)
at least 1 clove garlic
seasonings: rosemary, parsley, thyme, basil, salt, pepper
Parmesan cheese (the real stuff!)
See how I don’t have any measurements for this? Just go on your intuitions here.
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Line a baking sheet with foil. While the oven is heating, cut up your veggies. Cut half of the onion into big wedge-ish pieces, and chop the other half in a fine dice and set those aside. Cut your tomatoes into wedges if you are using big ones; if you have cherry tomatoes just cut them in half. Put the tomatoes (skin down) and onions on the baking sheet. I like to take 2 cloves of garlic with the skins still on and put them on the baking sheet too. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper over them along with any other seasoning you want, and stick them in the oven. Twenty minutes should do it.
Meanwhile, heat up a medium skillet on the stove over medium heat. Chop up a clove of garlic. When the pan is warm, pour in some olive oil- enough to coat the bottom of the pan. When that’s nice and hot, throw in the diced onions and garlic and sweat them for about 8-10 minutes. Don’t get them brown or anything. You can add some herbs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like rosemary, which is convenient since I have a rosemary plant. While that’s going on, open the can of beans, drain, and rinse.
When the onions are translucent, throw in the beans and balsamic vinegar. I wish I knew how much to tell you to add. Just to taste. I love the flavor of balsamic vinegar so I put in a lot; if you don’t like it you can skip it, but let me tell you, you are missing out. The vinegar takes the flavor to a whole new level. Get that all warmed up.
By now your roasted onions and tomatoes should be done. Pull them out of the oven and put them in with the beans and onions (if you added the unpeeled cloves of garlic, don’t forget to throw them away!).
Serve up on plates or bowls, and grate a little of the fresh Parmesan on top. I forgot that my brother, the Parmesan fiend, used the last of ours this week so I had to forgo it.
Do you see the beauty of this recipe?
1. It’s quick. You can make this in half an hour, tops. If you crank your oven up to 400F/200C, the tomatoes and onions will be done in 15 minutes.
2. You don’t have to measure anything out. Just rely on your taste and intuition. I think this is a huge plus, but I know some people can’t cook without a recipe. To those people I say… I adapted this recipe from the BBC Good Food blog, so go there for your precise measurements. You won’t get them here.
3. It’s healthy. Beans are your protein and provide fiber. Veggies are always good for you. There’s little fat. It’s filling.
4. It’s infinitely customizable too. If tomatoes are out of season, roast up red or orange peppers instead. You can cut down on the onion if you aren’t a big fan, or up it if you love onions. Add your favorite herbs or add more garlic. If you want an animal protein, cut up and fry some bacon before you sweat the onions.
Honestly, wouldn’t you rather eat this tonight than that frozen pizza you were going to bake? Yeah, I thought so. Take this outside and enjoy the end of summer.