culinary review

White Bean, Tomato, Kale & Cheese Casserole with Pesto & Breadcrumbs

Last Modified: 10/01/11
First Published: 10/01/11
Views: 559
Views: 559

Real comfort food, that's the category this white bean, tomato and kale casserole would fit under. White large beans cooked in a vegetable-tomato sauce with a kick from adobo sauce, together with some nice kale and breadcrumbs and cheese, makes for a really nice dish. And to top it all off: a few dollops of nice pesto for extra flavor.

At first bite, this dish tasted rather familiar, almost like an old time favorite lasagna, even though we had never made it before. And that's a theme that really stayed with us throughout the meal. It's very satisfying and you won't even realize you're eating a vegetarian dish: it doesn't need anything, it's perfect just the way it is.

We used some queso fresco on top here which was really nice, however if you don't have that on hand, then you could just as well use mozzarella, monterey jack or even feta for more flavor! We cook our own beans and keep in the freezer, however if you're in a hurry, canned beans would do, but the taste won't be quite the same. Also, if you don't have large lima beans on hand, then you could very well use smaller white beans or chickpeas, however there is something special about those large, meaty white beans so use them if possible.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • thyme, oregano, basil
  • splash of dry vermouth or white wine
  • 3 tbsp of adobo sauce
  • 1 28 oz can of good diced tomatoes
  • about 4 cups of cooked large white beans (such as lima)
  • about 4 stalks of kale, swiss chard or some other hearty greens
  • cheese (we used queso fresco)
  • panko breadcrumbs (or homemade)
  • about 5 tbsp of good pesto (we used basil)
  • salt & pepper

Sautee the carrot, celery and onion and some salt in the olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the the garlic cloves, dried herbs and cook for a minute longer, then add the vermouth or the wine. At this point add the canned tomatoes and the adobo sauce and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so to come together. Taste with salt and pepper, and possibly add a splash of balsamic vinegar if it needs a touch of sweetness.

Once the sauce is done, mix in the white beans and the chopped up kale. Pour everything into a baking dish and top with some cheese and a thin, even layer of breadcrumbs. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Once out of the oven, dot the dish with pesto sauce. Enjoy!