White Bean Toasts with Burst Grape Tomatoes and Pancetta

Toasts may seem like a simple dish to serve as an appetizer, and you're right - they are simple, but simple isn't a bad thing, especially when you very well might have a lot of other entertaining tasks to do.

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A piece of toast by itself might seem a little plain and a desperate, bottom-of-the-barrel attempt to find something in the house to eat, but a delicious piece of toasted or fried bread topped with any number of ingredients can be inventive and frankly, very inviting. “Would you like a piece of toast?”, after all, is a much different question than “Would you like a white bean toast with burst grape tomatoes and pancetta?” The most important part of course is the toast itself. Pick the best bread you can find and think about how it will go with the ingredients that you choose to put on top. It needs to be strong enough to support the ingredients and have a flavor that will compliment the toppings, rather than take away from them.

Overhead shot of three slices of White Bean Toast on a grey marble board.

This hearty toast combines the crunch and chew of Italian ciabatta bread with a hearty bean spread and the tang and saltiness of the tomatoes and pancetta. The rosemary adds a woodsy note too, making me feel like I should be eating this in front of a fire crackling away in the corner of the room. All the ingredients are classic Italian combinations and this toast is in fact hearty enough to be a first course or even a light dinner (if you use a large slice of bread) served with a side salad. 

For other toast ideas, click here or here or here.

White Bean Toasts with Burst Grape Tomatoes and Pancetta

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 12 m
  • Total Time: 27 m
  • Servings:


  • 8 ounces pancetta
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 15 ounce cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices thick-sliced Ciabatta bread
  • chopped fresh chives


  1. Pre-heat the air fryer to 400°F.
  2. Cut the pancetta into ½-inch cubes and toss them into the air fryer basket. Air-fry at 400ºFfor 8 minutes. Give the air fryer basket a shake and toss in the grape tomatoes. Air-fry for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the skin on the tomatoes just starts to burst open and the pancetta is crispy. (Alternatively you can cook the pancetta in a sauté pan on the stovetop. Add the grape tomatoes when the pancetta just starts to brown and cook the two together for a few more minutes until the skin on the tomatoes just starts to burst open.) Set the pancetta and tomatoes aside.
  3. Place the cannellini beans and olive oil in a large bowl. Smash the beans with the back of a fork until they are coarsely mashed, stir in the rosemary and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Brush the bread slices generously with olive oil and place them in the air fryer. Air-fry at 400ºF for 5 minutes, turning them over for even browning. (If you are making this on the stovetop, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the bread slices on both sides until toasted and light brown, adding more oil as needed.)
  5. Assemble the toasts by first spreading some of the mashed cannellini bean mixture on each toasted slice. Top with some pancetta and burst tomatoes, season with a couple twists of freshly ground black pepper and garnish with fresh chopped chives. Serve warm or at room temperature a slice as an appetizer or cut into triangles to serve as hors d’ouevres.
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