White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and a Herby Walnut Pesto is delicious Mediterranean Vegan Cooking. It’s zingy and so flavorful from all the lemon and the herby pesto. Paired with a toasted piece of sourdough bread it’s currently my very favorite lunch. I do think the flavors of the Mediterranean are hard to beat, of course the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are legendary, combine that with vegan cooking and you’ve got astronomical win win 🙂
This is a three herb pesto, using basil, parsley and mint and it’s wonderful, if however you only have one one herb on hand, use it and the results will still be lovely. I listened to a podcast on healthy eating a couple of months ago and they advised eating 30 (yes 30!!) different plant foods a week. As a result I’ve become a little OTT about cramming as many plants as possible into my meals. Happily this pesto is all the better for such obsessive behaviour.
As much as I love beans I would advise roasting plenty of tomatoes, I used a 12 oz package as you want this dish to be alive with flavors from the vegetables with the beans lending a supporting role. Simply drizzling the tomatoes with a little oil, salt and pepper before roasting them is all you need to produce a juicy sweetness that seep into the obliging bed of beans.
Yes, you can absolutely make vegan pesto. There’s so much flavor here you don’t need cheese. The walnuts provide a richness, the three different herbs and garlic offer complexity and the lemon juice adds lift and happiness. If you feel you can’t live without the idea of cheese you can add a little nutritional yeast but frankly I really don’t think you’ll miss it.
I love the idea of using a pestle and mortar for making pesto but living in this crazy world of too little time (plus I actually don’t own a pestle and mortar) I used my food processor which did an exemplary job. Just pulse (don’t blitz) the ingredients before you add the olive oil, you’ll have to stop the motor to use a spoon or spatula to redistribute the mixture and make sure everything’s chopped fairly uniformally, then add the olive oil.
Taste as you go (which I think should be the No. 1 rule of cooking) adding more lemon juice, salt, pepper or oil as you wish. You’ll end up with a lovely aroma and a sort of green emulsion.
What about the Beans?
Beans are a vegans best friend, being filled with protein and fiber and NO FAT.
One cup of cooked cannellini beans contain 15 grams of protein proving once again there is absolutely NO NEED to eat meat 🙂
Cannellini beans are the ultimate blank canvas, they just soak up any delicious sauce or flavors that are spooned onto or mixed into them.
Warming them through in a little olive oil with a few red pepper flakes, a little garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little lemon zest sets them up for being the perfect bed for the warm tomato juices.
White Beans and Roasted Tomatoes with
For the beans:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1, 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice and a teaspoon of lemon zest
For the tomatoes:
12 oz packet of cherry tomatoes on the vine
Drizzle of olive oil
Sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper
For the pesto:
2 cups of a mix of fresh basil, parsley and mint
1/4 cup raw walnuts
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest and juice of a lemon
1/2 cup olive oil – maybe less – see below
To roast the tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 375F
Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper OR an oven proof dish and drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle over the salt and pepper.
Place the tomatoes into the oven and roast for about 15 minutes. You want them soft but not mushy. They may well have produced some juice – just spoon the juice over the beans before serving.
To make the pesto:
In a food processor pulse the fresh herbs, walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, zest and juice of the lemon. Redistribute with a spoon or spatula if needed and continue to pulse until you have a coarse meal.
With the motor running drizzle in the olive oil, you may very well not need all the oil, go slow, stop, taste and adjust as necessary. Add more lemon juice, salt, pepper, oil as you desire.
For the beans:
Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan, add a pinch of red pepper flakes and heat until warm.
Add the garlic, don’t let it color, then add the drained and rinsed beans, gently stir, you don’t want to mash them. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of lemon zest.
When the beans have warmed through, remove from the heat. Pour onto a warm plate, top with the roasted tomatoes with any juices and dollops of the pesto. Serve immediately.