Giant Bean Gratin
8 servings
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb PerelmanI used kale, but other sturdy greenery, like Swiss chard, broccolini, or mustard greens, would work. I made a few suggestions in the post about adding meat or extra herbs.You’ll need to start with 1 pound (450g) of uncooked beans to get the right amount for the recipe. Coronas are ideal, but the beans I used didn’t have the variety listed on the package. I know that there’s a Polish bean that’s quite large, and found an interesting blog post about them, along with some beans that are similar. Whatever you use, reserve some of the bean liquid if you want to use it in place of the wine (in step #2), and to add back to the beans before cooking, in place of the stock.Whatever you use, try to find the largest beans you can. This is a recipe where size matters.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 (80ml) cup white wine (or water, or bean liquid)
5 cups (120g) coarsely chopped kale leaves
2 1/4 cups (550g) canned crushed tomatoes
1 pound (450g) giant beans, cooked drained
about 1/2 cup (125ml) stock (vegetable or chicken) or bean liquid
8 ounces (225g) mozzarella, coarsely grated
1/3 cup (35g) grated Parmesan
coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
1. If you have 2 1/2 to 3 quart (2-3l) stovetop-friendly gratin dish, use that for preparing the vegetables. (You’ll be baking the gratin in the same dish.) If your gratin (or similar sized dish, like a lasagna or braising pan) can’t be used on the stovetop, prepare the vegetables in a large skillet.
2. Heat the olive oil in the dish or pan. Add the onions and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are wilted, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another minute, then add the wine (or water or bean liquid), scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on or browned bits of vegetables. When the wine has been absorbed, add the kale and cook until wilted. Preheat the oven to 475ºF (245ºC).
3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the drained beans and cook everything together 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup of stock if the mixture looks dry. Taste, and season with additional salt, if necessary. If you’ve prepared the vegetables and beans in a skillet, up to this point, transfer them to an oven-safe baking dish (as mentioned in step #1).
4. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top of the beans, then the Parmesan, and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned on top. If you wish, run the gratin under the broiler until the topping is browned to your liking. (If making garlic bread, you can cook it at the same time under the broiler.) Remove the gratin from the oven, top with parsley, and serve.

Serving: Although not required, this goes well with garlic bread. Warm butter with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and let cool until spreadable (You can also add some dried oregano, a pinch of red pepper flakes to the butter, and/or some chopped parsley after the bread is baked.) Split a crusty loaf of bread, like a baguette, bâtard, or what’s often referred to as “Italian bread” in the U.S.

Lay the bread on a sheet of foil, cut side up, smear garlic butter over the bread. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and run the bread until the broiler until the top is browned.

Storage: If making the dish in advance, you can refrigerate the vegetable mixture for up to three days in advance. Rewarm it before adding it to the baking dish. In which case, it may need a little more liquid added when being rewarmed.