A gratin is simply a dish that has been topped with a browned crust of cheese or breadcrumbs. I love the versatility of this idea – I can combine any number of things together, divide it up between ramekins, top with cheese (I usually forgo the breadcrumbs), bake, and I’ve got what seems like a special meal. Done in about 30 minutes, no less.
This day I combined a spicy sausage, cooked white beans from the freezer, and leafy kale from the garden (yes, in February- that’s one of the reasons I always try to grow kale) with home-canned tomatoes and spices to make a sausage, bean and greens gratin. It turned out very tasty – and quite healthy – and was fabulous served with Easy Artisan Bread.
And “gratin” is so much more appealing than mere “casserole,” don’t you think?
Sausage, Bean and Greens Gratin
- 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (spicy, turkey, chicken, pork – your choice) see note*
- 1 med. onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 c. cooked white beans (= 2 cans) – or any bean you have
- 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1/3 c. water or chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- Cayenne pepper to taste (omit if using spicy sausage)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 c. chopped greens: kale, spinach or chard
- 1-1/2 c. grated cheese: mozzarella, fontina, cheddar, parmesan or your choice
- Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened.
- Add beans, water or broth, tomatoes, and spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. If it seems dry, add more water/broth at this point and taste for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Turn heat up to medium and add greens. If using spinach, cook only until the spinach wilts; if kale or chard, cook until tender – about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Preheat broiler. Divide the mixture between 6 one-cup ramekins and top each with about 1/4-cup of cheese.
- Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and broil a few inches from the heat until the cheese is melted and browned.
- Serve immediately with bread to sop up all the lovely juices.
*Note: This is easy to make meatless, by the way- just leave out the sausage and cook the onion in butter or olive oil before proceeding with the recipe. It will probably only make 4 servings unless you add more beans, though. [/recipe]