Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto

January 31, 2013
Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto - Tangy feta cheese, a bright herbal pesto and a crisp breadcrumb topping all elevate this tomato-bean stew

I bookmarked the recipe at least a couple of lifetimes ago ..

Great White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto 6-680x

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That's just how long it's sounded really, really good. (But then again, I'm a sucker for a pot of beans, throw in some cheese, add a tomato base; oh my)

So the other night, when I decided a food blog must go forth, this was one of the first recipes that came to mind

What was I waiting for?

Pre-clean, ready

Wally and Z

Garlic roasted

Roasted Garlic 10

Imagine plump, creamy beans baked in a bright chunky tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of tangy crumbled feta, and an emerald drizzle of oregano-parsley pesto.

It's incredible made with meaty Rancho Gordo Giant Limas from Peru, silly Gigantes, or other large limas from your local grocery.

While we love the original in its purest form, it's one of those recipes that beg for a few twists of our own: a slightly different tomato sauce, parsley or cilantro pesto, greens like kale or spinach, whole grain bread crumbs, melty cheese like goat, farmers, or queso fresco.

We adjusted the spices, as husbands and wives do.  Finding the right combo in the spectrum of “I can't do spicy” to “let's add a few jalapenos.”

Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto - Tangy feta cheese, a bright herbal pesto and a crisp breadcrumb topping all elevate this tomato-bean stew

One of the great things about this recipe is: you're able to do many of the components ahead of time.  Things like boiling the dried beans, making the pesto and tomato sauce, and toasting the breadcrumbs.

It's easy to assemble the components in a flash, and into the oven, it goes.  Perfect for evenings when friends are invited over, or busy days; times when something quick and easy is the only thing that will do.

I'm sure someone will wonder, what about substituting canned beans?  I've often found they lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch will have. The canned beans tend to break and go to mush much more quickly.

Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto - Tangy feta cheese, a bright herbal pesto and a crisp breadcrumb topping all elevate this tomato-bean stew

Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto - Tangy feta cheese, a bright herbal pesto and a crisp breadcrumb topping all elevate this tomato-bean stew

Do you have a recipe that you keep bookmarking over and over again?

Why wait?



( ** Note from Ali:  This is the very first post on The Veggies. In light of the blog's five year anniversary, I thought a few updated photos were in order)

~ Adapted from Food & Wine

Giant White Bean Stew with Oregano Pesto


  • Beans
  • 3 cups dried giant lima beans or Gigantes rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained
  • Kosher salt

  • Stew
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • One 16 oz can whole tomatoes, juices reserved, tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp oregano, chopped fine
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese, for sprinkling
  • 2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)

  • Pesto
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt


  • Beans
  • In a large saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender but still al dente (~ 2 ½ - 3 hours). Add water as needed to keep the beans covered by roughly the same amount
  • Season with a strong pinch of salt and let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Reserve 1 ½ cups of their cooking liquid before draining the rest

  • Pesto
  • In your food processor or blender, add the olive oil with the oregano, parsley, garlic and a pinch of salt; pulse to a coarse puree.

  • Sauce
  • In a large saucepan, over medium-high, warm 3 Tbsp of the olive oil.
  • Add the onion and garlic; cook until softened (~ 8-10 minutes)
  • Add the tomatoes, oregano and the reserved cooking liquid from the beans. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to 1 ½ cups (~ 1 hour)
  • Season the tomato sauce with salt, to taste.

  • Stew
  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, mix the beans with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with feta.
  • Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and the cheese has browned. Remove the from the oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
  • Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, (~ 3 minutes)
  • Top the beans with toasted bread crumbs, a spoonful of oregano pesto, and serve.
Serves: 8
Nutrition + Show
Calories 378
Total Fat 15.8g
Saturated Fat 5.9g
Carbohydrates 45.6g
Fiber 10.8g
Sugars 5g
Protein 15.5g
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  • Reply Ann March 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh, a bean bake!? This looks awesome, especially the chipotle tomato sauce. I think that might even find it’s way into a few other recipes, for me 🙂

  • Reply Dee Jackson May 17, 2015 at 12:36 am

    There is nothing not to love here. Parmesan, crunchy bread crumbs, pesto, and a bit of kick. Oh yeah and those gorgeous beans (I happen to have a soft spot for heirloom beans) It would be perfect with my current favorite green, Giant Fordhook chard. Perfect for a cold-weather meal!

  • Reply Ally Jones August 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    5 stars
    Sounds wonderful. Looking around today for a good, comforting dish to bring to a friend who’s just had a big loss. I think this will be perfect for her. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply Cherri September 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I’m a huge fan of white beans. And of course, only dried beans grace my kitchen. No canned goodies of any kind in my pantry!
    I can’t wait to try this recipe, I bet it will be fantastic with a crusty piece of bread!

  • Reply kim February 10, 2016 at 5:47 am

    This recipe just sounds absolutely perfect! I love tangy tomato sauces and dishes with lots of textures to them. This one ticks so many boxes in terms of nutrition (legumes, vegetables, dairy, carbohydrate, protein). In the past, I’ve tended toward canned beans, but thought I’d return to making them again in my new slow-cooker. If any of your readers have tips for the best way to do this, I’d be really appreciative!

  • Reply Kiwi May 9, 2016 at 10:44 am

    On a side note the rug your dogs are sitting on .. I have that too! But onto the recipe, this looks good, especially since I am looking for meatless options.

  • Reply Jeanette Radmall October 10, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Anything involving white beans (my current fave) as a casserole I can throw in the oven = heaven. Can’t wait to try this bad boy with a bit of a northeastern spin. I’m thinking molasses and paprika in place of the adobo. And I actually just planted some cilantro for the purpose of winter pesto – how fortuitous! xx

  • Reply Heather October 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Was thinking of ordering some Rancho Gordo beans today. While I haven’t ordered from them before, I have a friend who has and they’ve been on my list of things to try. This also sounds like a perfect way to use up what’s left of the 8 lb wheel of queso fresco in my freezer that another friend brought back from Mexico.

  • Reply EG III January 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

    5 stars
    This recipe looks and sounds absolutely delicious! The only alteration I would make, as a vegan, would be to omit the feta cheese, but even then I’m sure it would still taste great!

  • Reply Esther February 4, 2017 at 4:38 am

    It’s been about a year since my boyfriend and I moved in together and in that time I’ve become addicted to cooking, Our most enjoyable moments are at our dinner table with our kids who, to my deep regret do not (yet) appreciate my cooking. We talk, laugh, and enjoy each other. In my searches to once again surprise my dearests, I came across your site, and have visited often ever since. I just love your stories. Your site is truly wonderful, there is such a sense of warmth and it inspires me to keep cooking and try new things … such as lentils…!

  • Reply Sue Reddel July 15, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    5 stars
    We’ve been experimenting with many vegetarian dishes this winter. This one sounds perfect. The large fresh lima beans and the feta cheese sounds like this may become one of our new favorites. We’ll be trying it soon.

  • Reply Wanda Lopez September 26, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Instead of Chipotle, how about Harissa?
    I love Rancho Gordo beans. Not only do I order boxes for myself, their beans make great gifts for all of my foodie friends.
    As for cooking their beans, my favorite trick is to use my rice cooker. I cook most beans on my brown rice setting (or for a real low, slow cook use the “Gaba Brown” setting on my Japanese fuzzy logic cooker). I soak the beans the night before and get them settled in the morning on cook while I work. Rice cooker switches to warm setting and they’re perfect by the time I get home. Great technique for an overworked foodie!

  • Reply Angela Milnes November 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    5 stars
    I’m really excited to play around with this recipe. I have a number of wonderful chiles and chile powders from a local spice company, and I’ve been wondering how some of the smoky ones will sauce up as a substitute for canned chipotles in adobo. Plus, the cilantro has finally taken off in my garden, so all is good there.
    By the way, I love that your husband loves all things spicy! It makes my life ever-so-much-more delicious. xo

  • Reply Bev February 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    I just came home from the grocery with a bag of really big white beans knowing I’d find something special to do with them … and voila! I look forward to reading your posts every week, it inspires me to actually get into the kitchen and enjoy being there. And congratulations on your five year blogging anniversary! xo

  • Reply Carola February 12, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    5 stars
    Feta cheese, beans, and pesto – say no more! This is an amazing dish (and easy to make to boot) 🙂
    Thank you & bon appetit! 😉

  • Reply Hannah Denton February 13, 2018 at 2:49 am

    Happy anniversary of your blog! 5 years is amazing. So much to celebrate!
    Ps: I love the Dorothy shoes bookmark!

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus February 13, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Wow I can’t believe that this is your first ever blog post how time flies! Of course as a vegetarian I do love a bean stew but I believe that this is a recipe that meat eaters would enjoy as well, as like you said the ‘white beans’ are quite hearty and like you said canned beans are a lot easier to turn to mush, while I can imagine that the oregano pesto compliments the dish beautifully!

  • Reply Laura Dove February 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    We keep meaning to try and eat more vegetarian dishes, we are terrible for always eating meat in every dish! I always worry that vegetables just aren’t as filling but this actually sounds really hearty and it looks delicious!

  • Reply Irena February 14, 2018 at 7:21 am

    This stew looks delicious. I think this is one of just a few meals without meat my husband would enjoy?. Btw, congratulations on 5 years of blogging.

  • Reply Waren Jean February 14, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Yum! These sound fantastic. Chipotle and beans are such a good combination. And I have several bags of Rancho Gordo beans in my cupboard …

  • Reply Sarah Bailey February 14, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Wow what a step back in time, it is interesting to how things have changed over the years with your blog. But of course your recipes are as delicious as they always have been.

  • Reply Trina February 14, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    5 stars
    This looks delicious I’m going to make it this weekend! My little one loves lima beans too so I can just pull some out for her and my husband and I can enjoy to full thing 🙂

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus February 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    5 stars
    I know I already commented earlier but it didn’t let me upload with a 5 star rating so I am trying again as you deserve all the stars my lovely! So I was saying before, I can’t believe that this is your first ever blog post, isn’t it crazy how time flies?! Of course as a vegetarian I do love a bean stew but I believe that this is a recipe that meat eaters would enjoy as well, as like you said the ‘white beans’ are quite hearty. I also like that you said that the canned beans are a lot easier to turn to mush, while I can imagine that the oregano pesto compliments the dish beautifully!

  • Reply Sheri February 16, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Can you imagine that I have never tasted a bean stew? I am sure it taste delicious. I love oregano pesto. I like that fact that you can make some of the components ahead of time, so if we are having guests, I can get most of it ready early in the day.

  • Reply Amber Stanfield February 16, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    5 stars
    I always love the recipes you post; so healthy, but so hearty and filling! My husband and I have yet to meet a bean we didnt like, so I’m going to definitely try this recipe out this weekend! I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Reply Tami February 17, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I do not make white beans often. It is mostly because hubby gets tired of the same basic recipe. He will love this variation, I am almost certain. I like that it is not difficult to make.

  • Reply Vian February 17, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    5 stars
    Truly, i read this recipe post 2 days ago, i remember sharing and copying the recipe.. we will do it again some other time, I just don’t know what kosher salt is. I promise to subscribe… I will be your loyal reader from now on!

  • Reply Valerie February 17, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    I love white beans! We eat them pretty often in my home country! I love your personal touch on this recipe! It looks amazing?

  • Reply Rachel February 18, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Ali,
    You don’t know me, but I’ve been following your blog ever since you started. So fun to read your very first post and realize five years have gone by. Congratulations is the word that comes out instantly.

    Beans are the best comfort food, aren’t they? I think I drive my boyfriend crazy with all of the things I make, but I never tire of them.

  • Reply Blair Villanueva February 19, 2018 at 12:45 am

    5 stars
    I like bookmarking recipes and sharing it with my mom or wih my Amore. With Amore, he is in charge of the kitchen and am just a kitchen assistant 🙂 We also tried the pesto with beans and we love it!
    Now I miss his cooking 😉

  • Reply Emma February 19, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Two years ago, my best friend brought me a batch of your granola to get me through the first days of breastfeeding after my daughter was born. This winter, I finally had some extra time to dig through the archives. I have been systematically reading all of your lovely stories and making the recipes for my family. My husband declares them delicious. Thanks for sharing your kitchen and part of the world with us.

  • Reply Suzanne February 19, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Ali, as always a wonderful story and a recipe that sounds heavenly. Thanks for sharing your life through your blog. Congratulations on your five year blogging anniversary!

  • Reply Censie Sawyer February 22, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    What a great recipe. It is snowing today and I need to warm up for dinner. GOing to add this to our meal plan! I love trying new stew and soup recipes.

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