An easy gratin casserole made with sausage, bean, greens, and topped with cheese is a healthy, inexpensive, and delicious real food recipe.
When I discovered ramekins, my cooking world was rocked. Actually, what I mean is when I discovered that you could use ramekins for all the recipes I always baked in one baking dish, 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. 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.
Sausage, Bean, Greens 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 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.
For this recipe, you’ll combine a spicy sausage, cooked white beans from the freezer, and leafy kale with canned tomatoes and spices. These are loose parameters, though, since the sausage can be any kind you like, the beans whatever you have on hand, your preferred greens, and favorite cheese. No matter how you make it, though, sausage, bean, and greens gratin is both flavorful and healthy – and always fabulous served with Easy Artisan Bread.
And besides “gratin” sounds so much better than just “casserole,” don’t you think?
- 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (spicy, turkey, chicken, pork - your choice)*
- 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
- ⅓ c. water or chicken broth
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ 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 ¼-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 with pinnable image, new formatting and printable recipe.
Other easy real food dinners you may like:
Baked White Fish with Parmesan-Herb Crust (20 minute meal)