When spring approaches and warmer weather is on the horizon, I love introducing lighter dishes into the rotation, like this Tomato and White Bean Casserole. Think of it as a panzanella salad but in casserole form (panzanella is an Italian tomato and bread salad). It’s refreshing and won’t weigh you down, but it’s still satisfying and not quite a full summer recipe.
Bursting with fresh flavor from cherry tomatoes, shallots, basil, parsley, and capers, it features layers of flavor and textural complexity. It makes a fabulous side dish, but thanks to the addition of white beans, it’s substantial enough to be served for lunch or dinner.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Light but satisfying. If you’re craving recipes that are a little lighter as we head into spring, this is a great option. It’s light and fresh, but more substantial and satisfying than a panzanella salad (its inspiration).
If you’re looking for another recipe that brings the freshness of spring in a cozy package, you gotta check out this Savory Asparagus Galette with Ricotta. Or, for a salad that’s light and fresh but satisfying, try this Pearl Couscous and Lentil Salad.
Layers of fresh flavor. We start with a layer of sweet cherry tomatoes, mild and subtly sweet shallots, and earthy thyme, which get baked together with white beans and toasty bread. Then they’re covered with a nutty cashew parm and an herby caper gremolata, which brings the brininess of capers, the pungent sharpness of raw garlic, and the herbaceous zip from fresh basil and parsley. So much goodness!
Textural contrast. A dish with varying textures is always a win in my book. Here, the top pieces of bread get golden and crunchy, whereas the pieces submerged in the casserole get softened and melt into the background. The cherry tomatoes remain juicy, some of them retain their shape while others wrinkle up into caramelized goodness. And the cashew parm covers everything with a subtle crunch.
For a summer casserole that has all kinds of crispy textural goodness, be sure to bookmark this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole.
How to make this Tomato and White Bean Casserole
Cut the bread into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cubes. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350°F (176°C) for 10 minutes.
Slice the cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. Plating them on a pretty tray is not necessary but makes for a nice photo.
Add the sliced tomatoes to a very large bowl.
Add the sliced shallots to the tomatoes. Separate them into individual rings as much as possible.
Add the chopped garlic, thyme leaves, and white beans to the tomato-shallot mixture. Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Add the toasted bread cubes to the tomato-shallot mixture and toss to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a 3-quart/3-liter baking dish.
Bake at 350°F (176°C) for 35 to 40 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the Cashew Parm. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, and extra virgin olive oil to a food processor.
Pulse the Cashew Parm mixture repeatedly until fine and crumbly.
Meanwhile, make the Caper Gremolata with the basil, parsley, garlic, capers, and flaky salt.
Finely chop the parsley and basil. Grate the garlic on top of the herbs, and chop the capers into the mixture. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
Top the casserole with the Cashew Parmesan. Place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until nicely browned.
Allow to cool slightly, then top with the Caper Gremolata.
Substitutes for this Tomato and White Bean Casserole
Cherry Tomatoes? Grape tomatoes work great. Regular tomatoes do not (too watery).
Fresh Thyme? You can substitute the 1 tablespoon thyme leaves with 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or simply omit it.
Cannellini Beans? You can easily substitute a smaller white bean, such as navy beans or Great Northern Beans.
Tips for making this recipe
If you’re cooking for 1 or 2 or don’t want leftovers, you can easily halve this recipe and bake it in an 8×8-inch (20×20 cm) pan.
You won’t need to use all of the Cashew Parm when you first sprinkle it on the top of the casserole (I used 1/2 to 2/3 of it). Not to worry though because it has a great shelf life (store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for several weeks). You can sprinkle it on salads, soups, roasted veggies, beans or lentils, or anywhere you want a nutty crunch. You can also sprinkle more of it on top of the casserole when reheating leftovers (see below).
Don’t skip the caper gremolata! The capers add an occasional salty, briny bite that is lovely with the tomatoes and shallots. The fresh herbs bring a lot of bright zippiness and complexity to this dish. And the raw garlic peppers this dish with the occasional sharp bite.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of bread should I use for this casserole?
I recommend visiting your local bakery or the bakery department of your grocery store and picking a soft but sturdy loaf of freshly baked bread. I’ve used a soft loaf of Italian bread and French bread (not a baguette).
I’d advise against something already crunchy and chewy like sourdough. I initially tried it with sourdough and some of the pieces were too crunchy to chew.
How can I make this recipe nut-free?
Substitute the cashew parm with toasted breadcrumbs. It’s more bread, sure, but it provides that irresistible crunchy topping we’re looking for.
How do you store and reheat leftovers?
Store leftovers in an airtight container. When reheating leftovers, transfer to a shallow, oven-safe baking dish and top with leftover cashew parm. Bake at 350°F (176°C) for 12-15 minutes, until heated through.
I hope you give this Tomato and White Bean Casserole a try! If you do, please leave a rating and review below with your feedback and tag me on Instagram with your remakes :)
- 10 ounces (285g) of soft but sturdy rustic bread*
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 pounds (900g) cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 5 medium shallots (6-7 ounces or 170-200g), peeled and sliced into rings
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves**
- 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans of cannellini beans***, drained and rinsed
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup (70g) raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup (9g) Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ cup (7-8g) fresh basil leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves, left whole and peeled
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- Flaky or coarse sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F°/176°C. Chop the bread into ¾-inch (2 cm) cubes and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until lightly golden but not too hard.
- Meanwhile, in a very large bowl (the largest bowl you have), combine the tomatoes, and shallots. Separate the shallots into individual rings as much as possible. Add the garlic, thyme leaves, and beans. Drizzle the mixture with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and season with 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Toss well to combine.
- Add the baked bread cubes to the mix and gently toss to ensure the bread cubes are coated and well combined. Transfer the tomato mixture to a 3-quart/3-liter baking dish (I used a 13×9" pan).NOTE: if your bowl isn’t big enough to hold the bread cubes, transfer the tomato-shallot mixture to the baking dish, then mix in the bread.
- Bake the casserole in the preheated oven at 350°F/176°C for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top bread pieces are golden and crunchy.
- Meanwhile, make the Cashew Parmesan. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil to a food processor. Pulse repeatedly in 1 second bursts until the mixture has a fine, crumbly texture, somewhat similar to grated parmesan (do not continuously blend, or you’ll end up with cashew butter).
- Meanwhile, make the Caper Gremolata. Finely chop the parsley and basil together. Using a microplane, grate the garlic directly over the parsley and basil (or mince the garlic with a knife). Add the capers on top, and chop everything together until well combined. Sprinkle with a bit of flaky or coarse sea salt.
- Remove the casserole pan from the oven. Using oven mitts, arrange an oven rack for the broiler (but don't position it too close to the flame) and set your broiler to a low heat.
- Sprinkle a generous layer of Cashew Parmesan on top of the baked dish and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes until the topping is nicely browned, but keep an eye on it to prevent burning. NOTE: For reference, my maximum broiler temperature is 550°F/288°C, so I set it to 500F/260°C and broiled for about 60 to 90 seconds, then reduced the heat to 475°F/245°C and broiled for another 30 to 60 seconds.
- Allow the casserole to cool for 10 minutes, then evenly sprinkle the top with the Caper Gremolata. Finish the casserole with a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and a light sprinkle of flaky or coarse sea salt.