Monday, October 30, 2006

White Bean and Tomato Casserole with Bread Crumb Topping

Copyright: Jack Bishop, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

1 1/2 cups Fresh Bread Crumbs (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained, with juices reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or sage leaves

For the Bread Crumbs:

Tear 4 1/2-inch-thick slices of stale country white bread (about 6 ounces) into a food processor and process until the crumbs are coarsely ground, about 1 minute. (This makes about two cups; reserve the extra for another use.)

For the Casserole:

1. Move an oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Mix the bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and salt and pepper to taste together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, 1/2 cup reserved juice, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the juices thicken, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Immediately transfer the bean mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the beans. Broil just until the beans are piping hot and the crumbs are deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Watch carefully to prevent burning.) Let settle for several minutes and serve.

My notes: Instead of making this in a larger pan, I made two individual servings in ramekins. My thinking was that the portion we didn't eat wouldn't be very good the next day with soggy bread crumbs. I did cook the two portions for dinner as written under the broiler, but felt that the bottom of the bread crumb layer was lackluster. I toasted the remainder of the bread crumbs in a skillet, so that every bread crumb was toasted. That went much better over leftovers, and I would do it for the first serving were I to make this again. I would also add more seasoning to the bread crumbs; they were just too bland to really do anything for the dish.

Read more about this recipe here.

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