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Dinner Tonight: White Bean Gratin with Red Peppers and Rosemary

A few things attracted me to this recipe: its supposed Basque origins, its easy preparation in a food processor, and a quick 15-minute cooking time. I imagined the gratin of white beans would be crusty and creamy, like a long-cooked cassoulet.

It didn’t quite work out that way—what came out of the oven was satisfying, but not particularly mind-blowing. If nothing else, though, this recipe is a shining example of the creaminess potential of beans. With only 2 tablespoon of butter for four generous servings (plus a glug of olive oil), the resulting hummus-like spread was as smooth and rich as ever. That said, it was also a bit bland. The next time I try something like this, I’d go with a more assertive flavor like garlic or cayenne; the rosemary and peppers just wasn’t enough to compete with the wide, open taste of white beans.

But there’s nothing wrong with the method, and the result is a melty, healthy spread that I served with a pile of sautéed spinach and a grilled sausage. Next time, I’d only purée half the beans to give it some more textural interest, lose the cheese on top, double the bread crumbs, and put it under the broiler to assure a flavorful, crusty top.

About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.

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