Back in late August, I took a trip to San Francisco and the wine country with three of my very good friends. Naturally, we bought a good bit of wine while we were there. Since most parts of the country were still sweltering, we didn’t really want to have it shipped back to us immediately for fear that it would end up spending too much time on a hot truck during transport. Lucky for us, we were able to make a local connection that was happy to hold on to our purchases and ship them to Nashville once the temperature dropped.
As soon as November arrived, so did our wine. This called for a little reunion party to divvy up the goods!
We each planned to bring some sort of small bite to nibble on while we looked at photos from the trip and uncorked a few bottles of our wine. About an hour before the party, my friend Lisa called me to tell me she’d had an unexpectedly busy day and wasn’t going to have time to make anything for the party. Instead, she’d grabbed a couple of jars of Trader Joe’s giant white beans from her pantry and was heading to my house. Her idea was to try to recreate a dish we’d adored on our trip, Nopa’s Wood Baked Giant White Beans appetizer, and she was hoping that perhaps I had the other ingredients we’d need.
The Nopa version is baked with tomatoes, feta cheese and oregano, then topped with breadcrumbs. Since the Trader Joe’s giant beans come in a sauce of chopped tomatoes, carrots, onions, and spices, I opted not to add any more tomatoes or spices. We didn’t want the dish to be too saucy, so we drained much of the liquid without losing any of the little bits of veggies. One ingredient I was missing was the feta cheese, but had plenty of goat cheese on hand, so we used it instead. While our version didn’t turn out exactly like Nopa’s, we all thought it was just as delicious!
Since that wine country reunion party in November I’ve made this dish several times. It’s great as an appetizer, a side dish, or even a main dish, which is the way I’ve eaten it most. A simple preparation, quick to bake, and a short list of ingredients make it an easy weeknight meal when paired with a side salad….a perfect Meatless Monday meal!
Giant White Beans with Goat Cheese and Pesto
Serves 3-6, depending on if served as an appetizer, side dish, or main dish.
2 - 12 oz jars Trader Joe's Giant White Beans (Fasolia Gingantes)
5 tsp pesto, divided
2.5 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain liquid off of giant beans. Empty 1 jar of drained beans into a 1 quart oven-proof serving dish. Break up goat cheese into small chunks. Drop half of the goat cheese chunks on layer of beans. Spread 2 teaspoons of pesto on top of this goat cheese/bean layer. Empty second jar of drained beans on top of that layer. Drop remaining chunks of goat cheese on top of beans, then spread 2 more teaspoons of pesto on top of that layer of beans and cheese. Sprinkle panko crumbs on top of mixture. Add last teaspoon of pesto to center of top layer of panko.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn oven on broil and broil for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve!