Cannellini Bean Gratin with Herbed Bread Crumb Topping

"Beans are incredibly easy to scale up: Cooking enough beans for 20 people is not really any harder than cooking them for four," says Tamar Adler. Even if she were only cooking for four, she says she'd still make a lot more, since beans are so versatile. Here, she lightly flavors them with mustard, garlic and vinegar and tops them with crisp herbed bread crumbs.

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 20
  • Time(Other): plus overnight soaking
KEY: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Casseroles & Gratins, Healthy, Make Ahead, Vegetarian, Dinner

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds dried cannellini beans (6 1/2 cups), soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, plus 7 cloves, minced
  • Bouquet garni made with 20 parsley stems, 10 thyme sprigs, 2 sage sprigs and 2 rosemary sprigs tied with twine
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 4 cups fresh bread crumbs (from 1 baguette, crusts removed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large pot, combine the cannellini beans with the carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, garlic head, bouquet garni and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add 6 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer the beans over low heat until tender, about 1 hour; generously season the beans with salt about 10 minutes before they are done. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread crumbs with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and bake, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then transfer the bread crumbs to a bowl and toss with the chopped parsley, sage and rosemary.
  3. Using the side of a chef’s knife, mash the minced garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Scrape the garlic paste into a small bowl and stir in the Dijon mustard. Stir half of the garlic-mustard mixture into the toasted bread crumbs.
  4. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid; discard the carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, garlic and bouquet garni. Transfer the beans to 2 large, shallow baking dishes. Whisk the vinegar and the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil into the remaining garlic-mustard mixture, then stir in the reserved bean cooking liquid. Pour the mixture over the beans and stir. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, until hot and crusty. Drizzle with olive oil and serve warm.

Make Ahead

The beans can be refrigerated in their cooking liquid for up to 3 days; the toasted bread crumbs can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature without the herbs for up to 3 days. Return the beans to room temperature before baking.

Published December 2012

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