Bacon, beans and tomatoes—baked. Hello? That's gotta be good tasting and good for you.
A gratin of beans, pancetta and tomatoes is a pretty quick dish as far as baking goes and it's the perfect accompaniment for a big roast or a simple piece of fish. Find your gratin or casserole dish and lather it up some olive oil. Then in a saute pan get some chopped up pancetta going—that's an Italian style un-smoked bacon, you can use regular bacon, but I'd stay away from hickory or maple flavored varieties. Add onion and garlic to the pan, then cannellini beans—you know the small white ones—a bit of water, rosemary, and bay leaf and get those flavors going.
After a while fish out the rosemary sprig and bay leaf and stir in chopped tomatoes. Pour this lovely mixture into the gratin dish and cover with a blanket of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese—bake it for about 30 minutes then put it under the broiler for a really crunchy topping. How good is that?
1 1/2 cups canned white beans, preferably cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 leafy sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup of water, or as needed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juice
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a large gratin or baking dish with olive oil.
In a heavy saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon of oil and the pancetta or bacon over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta or bacon begins to render its fat, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic, stir to coat, and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the beans, rosemary, and bay and enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Partially cover and bring to a simmer.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the rosemary stem (the leaves may have fallen off) and the bay leaf from the beans.
Stir in the tomatoes. Taste for salt and pepper.
Spread the beans into the dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and cheese.
Drizzle generously with olive oil.
Bake until heated through and beginning to brown on top, about 30 minutes.
For a crunchy topping, run the gratin under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.
Serve hot or warm.
(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.
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