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White Bean Gratin

Lauren made this Cannellini bean gratin during our Beans Workshop -- and it was so easy, and so good. A great way to add beans to your diet -- and so good your kids will like it too.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups white beans (Cannellini, Flageolet or Corona) soaked overnight
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, preferably the inner tender part, diced
½ bulb fennel, diced (optional)
1 small onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 -14 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
4 oz diced ham, or ham hock with bone
Water or stock to cover
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 ½ cups bread crumbs, freshly made
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. Warm some olive oil in a large saucepan. Add carrots, celery, fennel (if using) and onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme and tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add ham hock if using. Add beans with their soaking liquid, and more stock or water to cover by a few inches. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook the beans until tender. Add the salt, the diced ham (if using) and half of the chopped parsley.

2. At this point we want to reduce the cooking liquid until the liquid is reduced, thick and flavorful. Be careful of the bottom of the pot as the starches in the beans like to stick and burn in the pot.

3. When the liquid has reduced, pour the beans into a baking dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the olive oil or butter, the Parmesan and the remaining parsley.
Sprinkle over the beans and bake the gratin for 35-45 minutes at 350° until the crumbs are nicely browned and the beans are bubbly.

(c) Lauren Feldman
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