I just happened to have a can of white cannellini beans in the cupboard and some tomato paste when I read Ali Slagle’s recipe Cheesy White Bean-Tomato Bake in a recent New York Times. The discovery was that the Tomato ingredient was Tomato Paste. (Luckily, I had frozen the remaining tomato paste contents after opening a small can and only needed 1-tablespoon for the recipe.) Her recipe made 4 servings and used 2 cans of beans but I only needed 2 servings.  I added onions and more water than the original recipe.

I took a moment to ponder what Tomato Paste really was.  Here’s my research: The simple definition of Tomato Paste is just condensed tomato sauce. It’s a thick paste made from tomatoes, which are cooked for several hours to reduce water content, straining out seeds and skins, and cooking the liquid again to reduce the base to a thick, rich concentrate.

Concentrate is the Key Word. You can actually mix paste with water and make tomato sauce.

All cans and tubes of tomato paste are not equal.  I checked the labels of these brands:
     Hunt’s Tomato Paste ingredients: tomatoes simmered with salt and natural spices.
     Cento Tomato Paste ingredients list: tomatoes.
     Contadina declares: “from 100% vine-ripened Roma tomatoes with no additives”. They go on to describe:”Thanks to its natural ingredients, this product boasts umami depth, sweetness, velvety richness, and a deep red color that’s perfect for adding to sauces, soups, stews, braises, and ragus.

I love it when I can make supper with groceries I have on hand.  So I made Cheesy Cannellini Bean Tomato Bake for supper. Surprising in its simplicity and great taste, I served it with a side of sautéed spinach and crusty bread.  I will make it again. 

Cheese Cannellini Bean Tomato Bake
Makes 2 servings.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppe
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Stir in the onion and let sauté until translucent about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté another minute.  Stir in the tomato paste and fry/brown/carmelize for 30 seconds.

Add the beans and water.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Simmer 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Sprinkle with the cheese and place in oven until cheese is melted and slightly browned in spots.  Eat immediately.

P.S.  Most recipes only call for 1-3 tablespoons of Tomato Paste.  I set aside a small easily recognizable plastic container and fill it after using what I need.  Unless, you prefer to purchase the tubes of tomato paste.  They work great also.  If you ever go to Italy and want to bring home some souvenirs,  these are the best.  In Italy,  they are very reasonably priced and don’t take much room in the suitcase. 






Pin It on Pinterest

Share This