White Beans with Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes and Olive Oil

There is so much to love about velvety, protein-packed white beans–especially white beans with za’atar roasted tomatoes and olive oil, an ultra-flavorful combination that will keep you satisfied, healthy, and happy! Vegetarian and gluten-free (and vegan if you leave out the parmesan cheese).

White beans with za'atar roasted tomatoes and olive oil, in a vintage blue pasta bowl

When I daydream of cozy evenings with my sissie on Seminary Avenue in Chicago, there are many fine foods that come to mind (because good food and cozy go hand-in-hand, right?). Chicken and hushweh, weekly thanks God. Big salads, chocolate chip cookies of every shape and size (Peg is a chocolate chip cookie explorer), sheet pans of roasted vegetable goodness.

And big bowls of pasta. We took tips most especially from Lidia Bastianich, as well as the little While the Pasta Cooks book. More often than not, when the box of pasta hit the counter, I ambled my way down the hall to the front of the condo (Chicago shotgun), and made myself useless while I indulged in awaiting a Peggy-pasta to be placed in my lap.

A tin of za'atar with sliced tomatoes and olive oil, prepped for roasting

The pasta sauce components were always simple enough, zucchini and onions or pancetta and hot pepper flakes, good olive oil, freshly shaved parmesan, and there you go: dinner is so very excellent on every level.

This summer, Peg started to explore, as so many others have been doing in recent years, the pasta-replacement. It’s a tough one. I gifted her a spiralizer as part of the adventure, which is well and good, but her own compass led her to the glorious world of beans.

She’s been soaking up a storm of the legumes, so that you hardly walk in her kitchen without seeing a pot of beans on the stove. There is a lot to be said for soaking and cooking your own legumes, which results in fully infused flavor along with a sense of economy and wholesomeness all around.

White beans drizzled with good olive oil

White beans (northern or cannellini) turn out to be a top-of-the-line substitute for a bowl of pasta. I’d say Peg uses a variety of simple toppings, but the go-to for the last two months has been big, juicy slices of tomatoes, topped with za’atar and roasted to heighten sweetness and intensity, plus razor-thin shards of parmesan, a generous pour of fruity olive oil, salt, and a shower of chopped herbs.

This bowl of goodness was presented to me one rainy afternoon up north not long ago, when I had quietly slid out of the kitchen to sit and wait lazily in a chair, enjoying the aroma of the roasting tomatoes and waiting for Peg to place lunch before me.

Thin slices of parmesan cheese on a cutting board, for a bowl of white beans

Peg used a pasta bowl. Most everything tastes good that is presented in a pasta bowl. She nestled the bowlful in my lap and made a show of drizzling the olive oil, which for her is probably the best part of the dish, so perfect for showcasing the green gold she hunts down from the world over so we can make an edible study their rich complexities.

Oh my . . . eat this bowl of goodness and I guarantee you will not feel the need to eat anything else for hours on end. You’re satisfied! You’re the best kind of full! You’re healthy! And you’re so happy because that which made you so satisfied tasted so delectable! And it wasn’t even pasta!

White beans with za'atar roasted tomatoes and olive oil, in a vintage blue pasta bowl

White Beans with Za'atar Roasted Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Maureen Abood
Cook your own beans (favorite brand: Rancho Gordo) from dry by soaking them overnight, then cooking them in water with onions, carrots, and celery until tender (no salt, until the very end of cooking). Or use prepared beans to make this a very quick, simple, meal that could not be more delicious or satisfying!
Servings 2


  • 2 large tomatoes, cored and sliced in thick wedges
  • 2 tablespoons za'atar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked white northern or cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as basil, mint, chives, or a combination


  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
  • Lay the tomato wedges on the sheet pan and season with a tablespoon of za’atar and a pinch of salt. Drizzle with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons in total. Roast the tomatoes until they are very soft and fragrant, about one hour. 
  • Divide the beans in two pasta bowls. Lavishly drizzle olive oil over the beans and toss with a pinch of salt to coat the beans. Top the beans with the roasted tomatos, parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, and a finishing pinch of za’atar and salt. Serve immediately.
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  1. France on September 15, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    This dish looks yummy !!! I would love the nutritional information.

  2. elainenaddaff on September 15, 2018 at 9:17 AM

    Looks delicious and am going to the kitchen to make it for lunch.
    Your recipes are delicious, easy enough to make. I am a fan of
    your story telling narrative. You, so obviously, cherished your family
    memories and Lebanese food.

    • Maureen Abood on September 19, 2018 at 4:52 PM

      Thank you!!!

  3. Mark Bond-Webster on September 16, 2018 at 9:10 AM

    Hi Maureen,

    One of the great advantages and pleasures of living in a tiny village (pop.53) in the far east of England — at some considerable distance from a trend-setting, cosmopolitan metropolis — is that I have not received messages concerning ‘the pasta-replacement’. (And what the heck is a spiralizer? Can I eat it with chips (= French fries)?

    Nevertheless, I love beans and the recipe sounds delicious. I shall eat it as a salad. You know, after the pasta course. 🙂

    Best, etc….

    • Maureen Abood on September 19, 2018 at 4:51 PM

      NICE! The spiralizer is a tool that turns vegetables like summer or winter squash into spaghetti-like strands…

  4. Steve on September 21, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    Thank you for the mention!
    I’ve had your book for about 3 months and I’ve been loving it. My family won’t let me make the cucumbers, yogurt, and mint anymore but I just ignore them. It’s too perfect for the hot weather and our garden is in heavy production.
    (There’s a Mexican trick where you scoop out the seeds and center and blend it with sugar, water, and lime juice. Let it rest all day and then blend it again and strain it and you have a delicious agua fresca. And no waste! )
    I have a jar of sumac that is going to be very happy this weekend with this recipe.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Maureen Abood on September 21, 2018 at 11:20 PM

      Steve, thank you so much and I’m thrilled you have my book! Your agua fresca sounds wonderful, will have to try it. And I agree, never enough cucumber yogurt and mint salad….

  5. Maureen on September 24, 2018 at 9:18 PM

    Have you tried Kenji’s bean method? He salts both the soaking water and the cooking liquid from the start. I finally tried it with RGs beans and it worked perfectly and the beans really were tastier.

    • Maureen Abood on October 1, 2018 at 11:14 AM

      Some do salt from the start now, interesting and it makes sense from a flavor perspective. The thinking was always that the salt from the start would toughen the beans but seems not so!

  6. Rose on January 13, 2020 at 9:25 PM

    This looks delicious Maureen and I plan to try it this week. Any special tips or suggestions on how you soak/cook your beans? Do you add anything to the cooking water?

  7. Sheri Gesdorf on January 20, 2021 at 3:11 PM

    We made this last night. Roasting the tomatoes was so easy. Our only extra addition was that we warmed a mix of olives in some olive oil with a little garlic and added that as well. It was delicious!! My husband wasn’t so sure about a bean dish for dinner but we both loved it. Simple goodness but with such flavor and excellent comfort food. Thank you for sharing the story behind it. It’s really what made us try the dish!

    • Maureen Abood on February 2, 2021 at 8:58 AM

      LOVE the idea of adding olives and garlic, thank you!

  8. Tony on January 18, 2023 at 7:00 PM

    Made this tonight. Fantastic!

    • Maureen Abood on January 18, 2023 at 7:30 PM

      SO delicious! Thanks Tony, glad to hear it!

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