Is July the most lethargic cooking month? I don’t mean this in a bad way. I know in our productivity-fixated culture (“so busy, crazy busy”) we balk at praising apathy but what if we leaned into it instead? It’s hot. The days are long. If midsummer demands some laziness, some loosened grip on to-do lists, if de-participation beckons and we can pull it off, I’d like to try it. I could even schedule it one day next week if I move some things around.
Fortunately, there’s almost no reason to make any herculean cooking efforts, not when gardens and farm stands are overflowing with things good enough to eat without intervention, like heavy, sweet cherry tomatoes. If I am going to turn on the oven, however, it will be for this. This uses a pound of tomatoes and it’s one of my favorite summer meals of all time. These aren’t slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, the kind that semi-dehydrate and turn almost into tomato candy. They’re quick-roasted with olive oil and garlic until bubbly and otherworldly. The salty juices concentrate in the oven into a glorious rough sauce for the beans to roll around in and drink up. I finish it with a handful of basil.
While you can, and probably will, eat directly from the baking dish, it makes the most amazing crostini, ladled warm over pieces of toasted bread. You can tinker with the flavors here almost endlessly: add briny things like anchovies, capers, or cured black olives; add prepared pesto instead of fresh basil, finish with parmesan, pecorino, or even burrata. But I promise that if you only make it with tomatoes, garlic, beans, and basil, you will not feel that you’re missing a thing.
6 months ago: My Favorite Lentil Salad
1 year ago: Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris
2 years ago: Collard Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings
3 years ago: Corn Salad with Chile and Lime
4 years ago: Grilled Zucchini Ribbons with Pesto and White Beans
5 years ago: Grilled Pizza and Confetti Party Cake
6 years ago: Peaches and Cream Bunny Cake
7 years ago: Green Beans and Almond Pesto and Very Blueberry Scones
8 years ago: Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings and Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
9 years ago: Slow-and-Low Dry Rub Oven Chicken and Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic
10 years ago: Blackberry Gin Fizz and Bacon Corn Hash
11 years ago: Skirt Steak with Bloody Mary Tomato Salad and Flatbreads with Honey, Thyme, and Sea Salt
12 years ago: Bread and Butter Pickles, Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart, Zucchini and Ricotta Galette and Porch Swing
13 years ago: Mediterranean Pepper Salad, Cherry Brown Butter Bars and Watermelon Lemonade
14 years ago: Chopped Vegetables, Watermelon, and Feta Salad
15 years ago: Rosanne Cash’s All-American Potato Salad and Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
Roasted Tomatoes with White Beans and Basil
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound (455 grams) very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 small garlic cloves, but who is counting, peeled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white bean, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
Heat your oven to 400°F. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange the tomatoes in the dish, cut side up. Nestle garlic cloves around the dish. Drizzle with another 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and many grinds of black pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 20 minutes, until everything is bubbly and juicy. Remove from the oven to a trivet or cooling rack and use a fork to lightly mash the tomatoes and garlic, which will not be fully soft yet. Add drained beans and more salt and pepper if needed and stir to combine. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Scatter with basil and eat right away, either as is or ladled over crostini.
Note: You might have noticed that almost all of my favorite ways to eat beans come from places where I’ve swapped them in for pasta not out of any grievance with pasta/gluten/carbs, but because most of favorite pasta sauces translate so well to other ingredients. My jumping off point here is the baked cherry tomato sauce in this fusilli pasta adapted from Nancy Harmon Jenkins, though I skip the crumbs and cheese too.
Here are a few other bean dishes inspired by pasta:
A 2009 version of this dish includes cipollini onions, which are wonderful but have to be blanched and peeled and created a hurdle to making this as often as I’d like to.