An easy gratin casserole made with sausage, bean, greens, and topped with cheese is a healthy, inexpensive, and delicious real food recipe. Make and serve this one-dish dinner in a cast iron skillet or individual ramekins for easy serving - your choice.
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When I discovered ramekins, my cooking world was rocked. Actually, what I mean is when I discovered that you could use ramekins for other recipes I always baked in one baking dish and not just for the chocolate lava cakes that I originally bought them for.
I think casseroles have gotten a bad rap lately, but mixing meat (or not), beans, cheese, vegetables, and more is a great way to make easy, whole food weeknight dinners that are delicious and healthy.
The one problem with casseroles, I think, is that they just aren't very nice looking, especially when it's time to serve it. Berry crisps, casseroles, pasta, they all sort of end up looking like an unappetizing lump on your plate.
Enter the humble, cheap ramekin. Put anything in a ramekin, whether it's an egg dish, a chicken pot pie, or cheese-crust ham pie, and it all of a sudden becomes "company" food. It looks good and never fails to make family and friends feel special, and yet takes no more time than putting it in a large dish.
However, do I always put casseroles or skillet recipes like this hearty and flavorful sausage, beans and greens gratin in ramekins? Uh, no. Sometimes it just needs to be as simple and easy as possible. When that's the case, this works lovely as a skillet meal - cooked and broiled in a cast iron skillet and served at the table right in the skillet.
But it's so nice to have choices, isn't it?
Kitchenware Used For This Recipe:
- 8-oz. Ramekin Bowls, 8 pieces, White. (Can be used for this or any other of the recipes mentioned.)
- 8-oz Porcelain Ramekins, 6 pieces, Assorted Colors.
- 10-inch Cast Iron Skillet.
Sausage, Bean, Greens Gratin
What is a gratin?
A gratin is simply any dish that has been topped with a browned crust of cheese or breadcrumbs.
Just think about the versatility of this idea - you can combine any number of foods, divide it up between ramekins (or cook and bake in a cast iron skillet) and top with cheese and/or breadcrumbs. Set the ramekins on a cookie sheet, bake, and you've got a healthy, special looking meal - done in about 30 minutes, no less.
Gratin vs. Casserole: "gratin" just sounds so much better than "casserole," don't you think?
For this recipe, you'll combine a spicy sausage (leave the meat out for a meatless meal - most will hardly notice!), cooked white beans from the freezer, and leafy kale or other greens with canned tomatoes and spices.
These are loose parameters, though, since the sausage can be any kind you like (or none at all), the beans whatever you have on hand, your preferred greens, and favorite cheese.
No matter how you make it, though, you'll want to serve with a fabulous bread like Easy Artisan Bread.
Sausage, Bean and Greens Gratin
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage spicy, turkey, chicken, pork - your choice*
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups cooked white beans = 2 cans - or any bean you have
- 1 14- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup water or chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste omit if using spicy sausage
- 3 cups chopped kale spinach or chard
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheese like mozzarella fontina, cheddar, or parmesan
- Brown sausage in a large skillet (use cast iron or other 0ven-proof skillet if making as a skillet dinner) 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 using kale or chard, cook until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Preheat broiler and set rack a few inches below.
- For Skillet: Top mixture with cheese and place skillet on rack, broiling until cheese is brown and bubbly (about 3 minutes).
- For Ramekins: 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 recipe was originally published in 2012 and has been updated.
Other easy real food dinners you may like:
Baked White Fish with Parmesan-Herb Crust (20 minute meal)
One Pot Italian Pasta with Sausage & Spinach
Spiced Lemon Skillet Chicken with Kale and Garbanzo Beans
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I am so sorry about Samson but he had a loved life. I lost my little Nada to Cushings last year and it broke my heart but i know she knew she was loved.
Thank you, Susan - sorry for your loss, too.
My husband and I have enjoyed this recipe so much that I've added it to our weekly meal list! That's right, we eat it once a week. Well actually, we get three meals out of it so we have it for dinner one night and then reheat the leftovers for a couple of lunches! It's that delicious and it's SO easy to make! Thank you!
Yay! It's definitely one of those humble dishes that surprises you with how good it is. Enjoy!
We made this tonight, accompanied with roasted asparagus and whole wheat ciabatta (somewhat similar to your easy artisan bread) and it was wonderful! Everyone loved the gratin, so delicious, thank you!
SO nice to hear, Jon! I love simple recipes like this that don't seem that special when looking at the ingredients, but the flavor is just SO good. Too bad many others just pass by it without trying (notice the lack of comments...). You and I know the secret, huh? 😉
Well, I'll work on letting the secret out 😉
One thing I liked about this meal was how we took just a pound of meat and shared the dish around a table of 6 adults and still had leftovers! It's not vegetarian but it's a great way to limit the amount of meat in the meal and still get that full flavor that comes from the sausage.
Cathy Pendrak says
This sounds wonderful! I can't wait to try it. I just recently tried kale for the first time in a Minestrone Soup recipe found on Martha Stewart's website. The whole family loved it and so I have been looking for other recipes with kale. I have never tried growing kale and didn't realize you could grow it in the middle of winter. We too live in Oregon (Salem) and I will definitely put it in my garden this year. Thanks for the heads up!