A few things attracted me to this recipe: its supposed Basque origins<!-- (a wonderful French/Spanish hybrid that is the seat of some of the world's most ambitious restaurants) -->, 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.
- Yield:6 as an appetizer
- 2 15-oz cans white beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 roasted red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
- 2 oz Manchego cheese
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
In a food processor, puree half the beans with the olive oil, butter, and stock. Over-season with salt and pepper, then add the remaining beans with the rosemary and pulse until desired texture. Correct seasoning if necessary.
In a 3-cup ramekin or other backing dish, layer the beans with the chopped red peppers. Finish with thinly shaved cheese slices and the breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned. Garnish with parsley.