I am so excited about Pizza Beans! I just made them for the first time, and now I want them in our freezer always. They’re easy, hearty, delicious, and super-vegetal. They freeze really well. And it’s a very adaptable recipe.
I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. But it looked a little more complicated than it needed to be — until I realized that three-quarters of the recipe was “make a tomato sauce with vegetables.” We already have tomato sauce. We always have tomato sauce. Every summer I make and freeze enormous batches of tomato sauce, like Frederick the mouse gathering sun rays for the winter. Any recipe that starts with making a tomato sauce can be immediately short-cut.
So I thought: How can I simplify this?
Here is my simplified version of Pizza Beans. I realize that “simplified” may not mean the same to everyone as it does to me. For me, “simplifying” a recipe means “taking the numbers out and highlighting all the flexible parts that can be easily changed.” If you prefer recipes with numbers and specific ingredients, check out the Smitten Kitchen version — or just Google “pizza beans,” there’s lots of variations.
Pizza Beans, Simplified (originally from Smitten Kitchen)
Cooked white beans of your choice — canned is fine, 1-2 cans (see Notes)
Salt and/or seasoning, if using canned beans or supermarket tomato sauce (see Notes)
Tomato sauce of your choice, enough to generously envelop the beans
Vegetables of your choice (see Notes)
Mozzerella, grated — about 8 oz per can of beans
Mascarpone or cream cheese (optional), a hefty dollop or two according to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Dump beans into a Dutch oven or largish pot. If they’re not already salted and seasoned, salt and season them.
Add tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes or so. Add vegetables while simmering, timing it based on how long they want to cook (carrots and peppers for longer, greens for shorter). Adjust seasoning.
Transfer to baking dish (or keep in Dutch oven). Mix some of the mozzerella into the beans, with a little mascarpone or cream cheese if you’re using it. Top with remaining mozzerella and then Parmesan. Bake uncovered until internal temp is over 135 F (about 10-15 minutes). Turn up heat to broil if cheese is insufficiently brown.
Really, any white beans will do. Cannellini, Great Northern, butter beans, whatever. You don’t even have to limit yourself to white beans if you don’t want to. (The original Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for something called Gigante or Royal Corona beans, but I couldn’t find those.)
If you have “Italian seasoning” or “pizza seasoning” in your spice rack, this is a great place to use it.
Spinach is good in this. A mix of spinach and fresh basil is excellent. Peppers would be good. Probably kale. Anything you’d put in lasagna would be good here.