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Lima Bean and Sweet Pepper Gratin

"This butter bean gratin is based on an amazing flageolet bean gratin that one of my mentors, Frank Stitt, makes. His recipe was originally inspired by one from Richard Olney," says Hugh Acheson. ("Butter bean" is a common Southern term for limas.) "It's an ode to the marriage of Southern vegetables and French know-how."


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 3 cups frozen baby lima beans

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Salt

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1-inch dice

  • 1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 roasted red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, made from a country-style bread


  1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the lima beans, stock, bay leaf, 1 cup of water and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the beans are tender, 30 minutes; drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and bacon and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly caramelized, 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, roasted peppers, parsley, thyme and lima beans; remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid and half of the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer the lima beans to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle on the basil, followed by the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs. Dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and bake in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let the gratin stand for 10 minutes; serve.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight in the baking dish. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Contributed By Photo © Fredrika Stjärne Published November 2011

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