Stewed Basil Pesto White Beans

These Stewed White Beans with Basil Pesto make a delicious and hearty vegetarian meal or side dish. They are packed with garlic, onion, and creamy white beans with the bright flavor or basil pesto.

258 CAL 36g CARBS 7g FAT 13g PROTEIN
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These easy Stewed Beans with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices comes together in less than 20 minutes using ingredients you likely have in your pantry and fridge. It's easy, it's filling, and if you love pesto - this recipe is for you.

I love the combination of white beans and tomatoes. When you add some basil pesto into the mix and dinner is ready in under 15 minutes, I'm in. This dish is so incredibly simple to make and tastes out of this world. You can adapt this recipe in any way you like to make it work for your needs. Add some balsamic vinegar at the end, top it with some Parmesan cheese, or even cook some eggs in the mixture like a shakshuka. So easy, so comforting, and so good.

These stewed white beans also taste incredible spread on top of toasty artisan bread. It is a great stew to make in the summer since it only requires a few in-season ingredients and is light in texture. This is the perfect way to enjoy some comfort food, like stew, in the warmer months of the year. If you are a fan of stews, check out some of our other delicious recipes like this Instant Pot beef and barley stew and spinach white bean stew.

Stewed white beans with tomatoes, garlic, spices, and basil pesto on top served with garlic bread.

How to Make Stewed White Beans

This simple technique of stewing white beans with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spices takes a simple can of white beans and turns them into something really special.  Traditionally, for these beans to truly stew, you would start with dry beans and stew them for hours with the other ingredients.

However, since this is meant to be a quick weeknight recipe, that step is skipped and we simply cook the white beans in a skillet with all tomatoes, garlic, onion, and spices. You'll be shocked at just how much flavor the beans soak up in just 10 minutes. If you have more time, you can cook them longer for a more intense flavor. 

How to Make Homemade Pesto

Store-bought basil pesto sauce works well in this recipe and can easily be found at your local supermarket or an Italian specialty food store. I love a good pesto sauce and use it as a spread on sandwiches, pasta, salads, and so much more.

To make this delicious sauce yourself at home, blend the following ingredients in a food processor until your sauce is at your desired texture.

  • Fresh Basil: This herb is rich in Vitamin K, which promotes bone health and improves blood circulation. Italian large leaf and sweet basil are common choices for pesto sauce. Dried basil does not work well to produce this sauce but is great as an extra garnish if using storebought pesto.
  • Olive Oil: As the base of so many sauces, this oil is packed with health benefits. It has high contents of healthy fats, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Slowly add the olive oil to the blended basil and pine nuts to build up the consistency of this scrumptious sauce. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is recommended for this recipe as it is less potent than standard types.
  • Pine Nuts: These little white nuts are packed with protein, iron, Vitamin E, and magnesium. Nuts add great flavor and help to form the texture of the pesto sauce. Walnuts are a possible substitution here as well for added nutritional value. If you have a nut allergy, feel free to skip out on nuts entirely. The sauce will just be slightly less thick which is perfect for this recipe as the tomatoes will make up for the lack of texture.
  • Garlic: This popular ingredient, like olive oil, is featured in a myriad of sauces. It helps to build to flavor and pairs so well with olive oil. Blend the garlic with your pine nuts and fresh basil to get the most out of this ingredient. I usually just toss in a couple of full or half cloves into the mixture.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese: Parmesan cheese works as well if that is all you have on hand. This step is optional but makes for a wonderful addition to this sauce especially if you are looking for a more creamy texture.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use an instant pot: I love to use my instant pot to make stews for a quick and easy meal. This stew is already simple to make but feel free to use your instant pot or slow cooker to cut the cooking time even further.
  • Serve as a side dish:  These protein-packed white beans taste delicious alongside a variety of entrees. Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon, Balsamic Beef, and rotisserie chicken are all possible options that can even be sliced and added into this combination. I personally love adding chicken to pesto dishes.
  • Add toppings: Feel free to add some cheese, balsamic vinegar, or fresh herbs on top of this dish. If you make your own pesto sauce, some crushed pine nuts also make a great nutritious topping for this stew.
  • Make shakshuka: These stewed white beans are also incredible as a breakfast food! Combine with a bit more sauce and eggs to create a shakshuka-like mixture. This popular Middle Eastern dish is extremely filling and nutritious.
  • Serve it with veggies: Make this a full meal with some tasty greens on the side. Consider making some Sauteed Spinach, Garlic Zucchini, Grilled Asparagus, or Sauteed Garlic Butter Mushrooms.

White beans stewed with tomatoes, garlic, and spices and then topped with pesto on two slices of toasted bread.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stewed Basil Pesto White Beans

Are white beans healthy?

White beans are so healthy and delightful. They are great to incorporate into just about any meal. Beans are a commonly used plant-based protein in vegan and vegetarian diets. White beans contain high amounts of fiber, iron, and protein. This allows for these beans to be very filling.

They also have significant contents of calcium, polyphenols, potassium, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and zinc. The immune-boosting properties in this recipe make it perfect for when you are feeling under the weather, especially with allergy season right around the corner.

Can I use this recipe for meal prep?

Cooked white beans can last in the refrigerator for up to five days in a tightly sealed container. This is a great option for meal prep as a side dish or entree. It is a super easy and quick lunch that can be reheated on the stovetop or microwave. Feel free to use your instant pot to reheat this stew as well.

Can I add vegetables?

Absolutely! This recipe works great with added veggies. One of my favorite options is wilting in some spinach with white beans and tomatoes. If you like a heartier green like kale, cook it for 5-10 minutes first to soften, and then add the beans and tomatoes. Another option is sauteing quick-cooking veggies like zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, or asparagus with garlic. Then it will cook with the beans and tomatoes until soft.

Can I add protein?

This recipe works great with protein. My favorite option is adding some ground or sliced lean sausage. It adds so much flavor to the recipe. Start by browning the sausage and then proceed with the recipe. Another option is to simply add some cooked chicken, shrimp, pork, or fish to the finished dish. With some greens - it's a perfect meal. 

More Healthy Bean Recipes

The Recipe
Stewed basil white beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and pesto sauce with garlic bread.

Stewed Basil Pesto White Beans

258 CAL 36g CARBS 7g FAT 13g PROTEIN
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  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 20 oz. canned white beans
  • 14 oz. canned diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 3 tbsp. store bought basil pesto

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often to prevent burning.


Add the white beans and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Turn down to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes until thick. For a little bit of extra flavor, add in a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.


Stir in the pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 258
Calories from Fat 25
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 182mg
Total Carbohydrate 36g
Dietary Fiber 9g
Sugars 3g
Protein 13g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Stewed Basil Pesto White Beans
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April 2, 2022 - 09:05
Can this dish be served cold ?
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