Collard Green and White Bean Gratin

Collard Green and White Bean Gratin

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

As you might expect, The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook includes a chapter devoted to greens in all of their various Southern forms: fried, smothered, stewed, and shredded to creamy slaws. You would also be correct in assuming that there are quite a few collard greens recipes within those pages. Instead of sharing a recipe for slow cooked collards in ham-hock broth, we decided to go with an updated take on these classically Southern greens.

This recipe for Collard Green and White Bean Gratin comes from Frank Stitt, a chef who introduced Alabama to French and Italian flavors through his four Birmingham restaurants. This dish combines Southern collards and ham-hocks with Italian Parmigiano, cannellini beans, rosemary, and olive oil into a gratin that is the best of both worlds. Crunchy and just a little bit cheesy, hearty and boldly flavored, this gratin is just dying to be placed next to some sort of juicy braised meat—it could be something Italian, say osso bucco, or Southern, like smothered pork chops.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook to give away this week.

Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook by John T. Edge and Sara Roahen. Copyright © 2010. Published by University of Georgia Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:8 to 10
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 pound collard greens, stems and tough ribs removed
  • 5 garlic cloves, divided, 1 crushed and 4 chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups cooked white beans, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved
  • 1/2 cup diced or chopped cooked ham-hock meat, sausage, chorizo, or bacon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup medium-coarse fresh bread crumbs


  1. 1.

    In a large pot, cover the collards with salted water, then heat and boil until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Preheat the oven to 475ºF. Vigorously rub the inside of a 10- or 12-inch gratin dish with the crushed garlic. Discard the crushed garlic and set the dish aside.

  3. 3.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the collard greens, stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer into a large bowl.

  4. 4.

    Stir in the beans, meat, 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the reserved bean cooking liquid to moisten, then spread the mixture in the prepared dish. Top with the bread crumbs and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Drizzle with the remaining oil.

  5. 5.

    Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the filling is hot and bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top of the gratin is golden and crusty, about another 10 minutes. Serve hot.