A pantry and freezer-based recipe, this tomato, bean, and kale toast with feta is pure comfort food. While it has a long cooking time, it is almost all hands-off making this a simple recipe that produces major flavor.
The tomato base is inspired by Arrabiata, a spicy Italian tomato sauce. You can adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes to taste. I like to add 2 tsp. and then top it with additional flakes when serving. This way you can adjust the spice level to whatever you are feeling at the moment. Note that crushed red pepper flakes vary a lot in heat level. In my experience it is mostly due to how fresh they are, with fresh ones being quite spicy and older ones very muted.
The spiced sauce is packed with garlic, sautéed onion, a bit of oregano, and some balsamic vinegar for a hint of sweetness. The base is cooked for half an hour to allow the canned flavor to cook off and really let the flavors blend. This also helps the whole tomatoes break down and thickens the base. Then the beans are added. Quarantine encouraged me to buy some heirloom beans. These guys with their brown bellies are called soldier beans. Apparently they are related to the kidney bean and I could tell! They got super fat and had a firm texture that held up beautifully to the long cooking. They retained their texture so well! So fun to try different kinds of such a familiar ingredient. Of course you can use any type of bean! They all have their qualities – even lentils and chickpeas would work here.
The recipe calls for half of a bag of frozen kale. I found that adding a whole bag made it less saucy and very kale-forward. Using half a bag still gives the stew a thick texture but allows the beans and more of the tomato sauce to take center stage. Half a bag of frozen kale is about 2 scant cups worth. You could try subbing spinach instead with the same ratio. If you do not have any greens on hand you can also leave them out. The toast has lots of flavor either way!
The feta is the crowning jewel – the salty creamy bits brighten up the stew. Half and ounce to once ounce of feta per serving is plenty. I also topped mine with some fresh parsley and additional red pepper flakes, both of which are totally optional. This recipe is great for meal prepping because it makes 6 cups worth that will last 4 days in the fridge and can also be frozen for later use. If prepping, skip adding the feta until you are ready to serve.
Tomato, Bean, and Kale Toast with Feta
Servings: makes about 6 cups
Time: about 1 hour 15 minutes – almost all hands-off
- one 28 ounce can of peeled whole tomatoes
- 2.5 cups of beans (I used soldier beans)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
- 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1.5 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- half a 10 ounce bag of frozen chopped kale (about 2 scant cups)
- toast (I used sourdough), feta, and parsley (optional) for serving
- cooking oil
- Start by sautéing the diced onion in a large pan in some oil over medium until it is beginning to turn translucent. Do not let the onion brown.
- Add the grated garlic and sauté another minute until golden and fragrant.
- Pour the whole peeled tomatoes into the pan. Turn the heat up to high. Add the red pepper flakes, pepper, oregano, and balsamic.
- Using a large stirring spoon, crush the whole peeled tomatoes to help break them up.
- When tomatoes come to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minutes is up, stir, crush the tomatoes more and then add the beans and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- After that 30 minutes is up, add the kale. Stir, cover, and cook an additional 8-10 minutes until kale is tender, warm, and bright green.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve warm with toast, feta, and parsley.
- Canned whole peeled tomatoes have the best flavor of all the canned tomatoes IMO. However, you can sub whatever canned tomato product you have on hand and still get delicious results. If you are using another tomato product, feel free to add some tomato paste to thicken it up and add some depth.
- Remove or reduce the amount of red pepper flakes if you do not like things spicy.
- Feel free to add the whole bag of kale if you feel so inclined. I have made this multiple times and found I like it better with half the bag because it has a more sauce-y consistency. I also like the emphasis on the tomatoes and beans versus the kale (which when the whole bag is added surprising dominates.
- This keeps super well (although the color will darken). Freeze it in containers and thaw before reheating for great results (it might be a bit thicker so add some h2o to loosen). It also keeps int he fridge for 4-5 days!
- Serve with any type of bread – naan, pita, and socca would also be delish.