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ATK Kids

You Should Chicken Parm-ify Your Beans

White beans join forces with cheesy tomato sauce and crispy panko in this skillet dinner.
By Published Sept. 16, 2022

I’ve never been a huge fan of white beans as the star of a dish. They always felt more like a supporting-actor bean than a main-character bean.

Think about it: Chickpeas take center stage in chana masala. Black beans flavor the eponymous inky-dark soup.

I never thought I’d meet a white bean–centric dish I liked. That is, until I met the Cheesy Bean and Tomato Bake developed by ATK Kids for their upcoming cookbook, Kids Can Cook Anything!

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The dish includes the best parts of chicken Parm, but with creamy, neutral-flavored (and protein-packed!) white beans swapped in for the chicken. 

You have the homemade tomato sauce flavored with all the classics—aromatic onion and garlic plus dried oregano and optional red pepper flakes. Nutty Parmesan and melty mozzarella get stirred in the sauce along with the beans for cheesy flavor in every bite.

Sure, the cheese is welcome in the sauce, but we couldn’t compare this dish to chicken Parm if we didn’t include a gooey mozzarella “blanket” that covers the bean mixture. And topping it off with panko bread crumbs mimics chicken Parm’s crunchy coating.

Finally, what’s the point of a tomato-sauced dish if there’s not enough sauce to sop up with some bread? As my colleague Andrea Wawrzyn developed this recipe, she played with the liquid amounts until it was just right: not swimming in sauce but enough for several swipes of bread.

When I tell you this is one of my favorite recipes that ATK Kids ever developed, I mean it. And if you have kids, they’ll love it too. Here’s what one of our kid recipe testers had to say: “Delicious! Just like Grandma’s chicken Parm, but minus the chicken plus the beans. I love this!”

Hey! Did you know ATK Kids has its very own YouTube channel? Subscribe now and watch great, funny, silly, and delicious cooking videos for the whole family.