This vegetarian navy bean (haricot bean) recipe is so versatile and tasty, you won’t believe how delicious a pan of white beans can taste! Caramelized onions, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes bring amazing flavor. It comes together quickly and easily, and you will love the range of high protein meatless meals that you can create with it.
Looking for something to do with navy beans (also known as haricot beans) that is fresh and flavorful? And not soup? This simple skillet has you covered! It can a side dish or the main feature of your meal alongside some sweet potatoes or bread, and it is just VERY tasty. Like, a lot tastier than you’re expecting right now.
We’ve got caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes bringing some amazing sweet flavors, some feta cheese bringing its best salty creamy self to the table, and crucially the herbs and spices! A little crushed fennel seed, a little smoked paprika, dried sage… it’s subtle, but the savory, smoky edge this trio gives the beans is pure magic.
If you use canned beans, this can be a 30 minute meal, though cooking from dried is always going to give you a superior flavor. Especially because we have the choice to cook the beans in vegetable stock (which we really, really should do). So I’m not going to over-sell this as a quick and easy meal, because I would rather you make it with the dried beans, but it certainly CAN be a quick one if you don’t mind the compromise.
Ingredient & Recipe Tips
- You can use navy beans (haricot beans) or any other white bean for this recipe – it is all good. They are all different but interchangeable enough for the purposes of this recipe.
- In an ideal world, the beans would be cooked from dried, in a vegetable stock for maximum flavor. This is quite achievable with an instant pot – you can just have the beans cooking while you prep and start the onions, but cooking on a stovetop or slow cooker will take more forward planning. (There are instructions for cooking navy beans from scratch in the recipe card notes section.) If you’re using canned, this recipe calls for 1.5 cups of beans which is the amount in a 14oz (400g) can.
- I love to add fried sage at the end, but you don’t have to. Feel free to throw in a summery herb such as basil or parsley instead.
- I also love to add some fresh lemon wedges for serving, but this is also optional.
- The white wine is such an important flavor source, I wouldn’t skip it. If you definitely want to make this without the wine, use vegetable stock instead, and then add the juice of a whole lemon to the pan at the end. I’ve made it both ways and the recipe really clicked for me when I added the wine, but I can assure you the lemon version was still very tasty.
- My favorite way to serve this is over a simple baked sweet potato, or sweet potato toast.
- It’s also very easy to enjoy alongside buttered fresh bread for scooping. Something like sourdough or even a flavorful focaccia will work great.
Some recipes to pair with it:
More White Bean Recipes
White beans are delicious and versatile, but easily overlooked! If you’re trying to work more beans into your diet, check out these tasty ideas! (Feel free to swap navy beans in for the butter beans or cannellini beans specified in this recipes.)
Vegetarian Navy Bean Skillet
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 oz (225 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp dried sage
- ¼ cup (60 ml) white wine
- 1.5 cups (270 g) cooked navy beans, plus a little cooking liquid
- 3.5 oz (100 g) feta cheese, crumbled
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- Heat a layer of olive oil in your skillet. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. We want them reduced and soft, but starting to crisp up a little at the edges.olive oil, 1 red onion
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook until soft.3 cloves garlic
- Add the fennel seeds and cook for about 30 seconds, until the fragrance is released and then add the smoked paprika and dried sage. Mix through to coat the onions.1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp dried sage
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and continue to cook for a few moments until they start to break down and release their liquid.8 oz cherry or grape tomatoes
- Add the white wine and stir through. It will bubble up and help un-stick anything that's getting stuck on the bottom of the pan before being absorbed by the tomatoes.1/4 cup white wine
- Add the beans to the pan along with a little bit of the cooking water, just enough to keep the skillet moist. Simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the beans to absorb the flavor. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break down and mash some of the beans if you'd prefer a more creamy finish. Add salt and pepper to taste – especially important if you're using canned beans. Once the beans have cooked down to the texture you like, remove from the heat and stir the feta through.1.5 cups cooked navy beans, 3.5 oz feta cheese
- If you are using the fried sage garnish, prepare that now. In a small saucepan or frying pan, heat a little butter or olive oil and fry the sage briefly until crisp (about 30 seconds should do it). Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a bowl.10 fresh sage leaves
- Top the beans with fried sage and serve.
- Instant Pot: No soaking required. Rinse, and add to the Instant Pot with 6 cups of water. Cook on the BEAN / CHILI setting for 23 minutes, and then do a natural release (quick release is fine, but the beans may come out split).
- Stovetop: Soak your beans overnight (or for 8 hours) in a large bowl, with enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Rinse, and then place in a large saucepan with enough fresh water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the beans are soft.
- Slow cooker: Soak your beans overnight (or for 8 hours) in a large bowl, with enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Rinse, and then place in a large saucepan with fresh water and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Allow to boil rapidly for 10 minutes before transferring to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6, until the beans are tender. (Pre-boiling the beans is a precaution to prevent lectin poisoning, as discussed in this article.)