Baked White Beans With Cheese and Tomato

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With the start of the new year in full swing many of you are probably renewing a commitment to your health and wellness. I don’t make any formal resolutions because because I know myself well enough to also know I’ll be setting myself up for failure. It’s just who I am, and I’m not alone, in fact I’m with the majority! According to an article in Psychology Today, more than 80% of us won’t end up following through. The big four reasons for this are failing to create clear and realistic goals, feeling overwhelmed, feeling discouraged, and not being truly ready to change. 

What works for me is setting an intention I know I can live with, even if my world spins off its axis for an extended period...because life likes to do that, right? Gluten, dairy and legumes are all problematic foods for me. I have allergies or intolerance to all three, but gluten is the biggest offender. That means every single easy comfort food that is perfect for days with total upheaval is off the menu, which clearly illustrates why failure is an option. 

In the course of my day here on the farm I dish up 14 buckets and bags of food to the horses, 7 bowls of home cooked meals to the dogs and cats, 3 to the chickens and ducks, and 2 to the goat twice per day, and the 3 meals for each of us as well. That means I’m mixing, making and serving 64 meals a day. 

I was feeling pretty defeated after Thanksgiving, and trying to figure out why I was overwhelmed and resorting to eating things I knew would just add to my problems. I was chiding myself by thinking “gosh Colleen, a small restaurant serves about 100 every day, what’s the big deal?” 

The big deal is that the restaurant also has a full staff, so I let that sink in and stopped being discouraged and started being kinder to myself, and started playing with recipes that could be made in one pan, come together in less than 10 minutes, have some good comfort food taste, are reasonably good for me, and don’t have gluten.

Dear readers, the recipe that follows is all that and more...

Think side, main or appetizer that has all the comfort food goodness of pizza, baked ziti or lasagna here, with oozy cheese, rich sauce, loads of garlic and a pop of heat that comes together in less than 5 minutes and is ready to devour in 10. I almost feel bad saying that it’s loaded with fiber, potassium and calcium, I mean, let’s not ruin the mood! Bonus? Kids LOVE this! 

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Baked White Beans With Cheese and Tomato

Based on a recipe by John Kernick

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as an entree

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 (15-ounce) cans of cannellini beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed or equal amounts of fully cooked dried beans.

1/2 cup good red wine (or substitute stock or bone broth)

2 tablespoons water or stock

1/4 pound mozzarella torn into small bits

1/4 pound sharp cheddar shredded

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herb blend

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Course black pepper to taste.

Preparation:

This dish comes together very quickly, so make sure you have everything ready and at hand before you start.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

In a 10-inch oven safe skillet (I use this pan) heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes and sauté until it's lightly golden, about 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the beans, wine, water, herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste. It will spatter as it hits the hot oil so use care as you add it. Stir quickly to combine. 

Press the torn mozzarella lightly into the beans evenly around the pan. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the top. Turn off the heat and place in the oven to bake.

Bake until the cheese has melted becomes golden brown, and the edges begin to get toasty, about 10 minutes.

This is an excellent entree on it’s own with a big salad, but also a great side dish for a nice baked chicken, or add some cubed chicken, sausage, steak or other protein right into the pan. We love it with arugula or spinach and spicy sausage.

I hope you’ll enjoy Baked White Beans With Cheese and Tomato as much as we do, and that it becomes a constant in your recipe queue. It’s wonderfully versatile, and can be scaled up to feed a crowd as well. 

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