I love beans. Growing up, we ate them on a regular basis, particularly when we were poor. The beans that appeared on our table the most often were large dried lima beans, cooked in water and salt pork and served with corn bread. It was our main meal, not a side dish. We ate them nearly every week, because my mother would pine for them if they were absent from our table too long. My father wasn't very fond of them, because they reminded him of the Depression meals of his youth. We also ate fresh limas, and speckled butter beans whenever we could get them.
Even though I love limas, they lack the sex appeal of other beans. This recipe from Deborah Madison calls for flageolets, a bean I've never seen for sale. It sounds like a glamorous sort of bean, and I'd love to have them someday. But, I used my old friend limas instead. And they were frozen too! This was very simple to make, and the smell and taste of the dish was wonderful. The beans, leeks and artichokes are topped with tangy goat cheese and bread crumbs, then baked. The result is a dish with a mixture of sweet, savory, tangy, creamy, and crunchy tastes. Fabulous! It also contains rosemary, so it seemed perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging which was created by the fabulous Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. This week WHB is being hosted by the lovely Zorra at Kochtopf. Stop by her site this weekend, when she should have the Roundup of herb bloggers from around the world.
Lima Bean, Artichoke, And Rosemary Gratin
(Adapted from Deborah Madison, The Savory Way)
1 16 ounce bag frozen baby lima beans (of course, fresh would be all the better)
1 6 ounce box frozen artichoke hearts (ditto)
1 bay leaf
2 large leeks, white part only, chopped, about 2 cups
3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or several pinches dried
2 cups water or stock
freshly ground pepper
5 ounces goat cheese crumbled
3 cups fresh bread crumbs or panko
Note: You can use other beans, even dried. Use 1 cup of dried beans soaked overnight, then cooked in a pot with water and the bay leaf until tender.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring about 1 cup of water/stock to boil and add the frozen limas, the bay leaf, and salt to taste. Cook until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Make sure the beans are covered with liquid.
While beans are cooking, quarter the leeks length-wise and wash well. Then chop into 1/3 inch wide pieces. Warm up about 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat and add the leeks, the frozen artichokes, garlic, and rosemary and cook them around until they are coated with the oil for about 4 minutes. Season with salt and add the remaining cup of water/stock. Cook over medium high heat until veggies are tender and water has reduced (it took me another 4 minutes).
When the beans are done, drain them and reserve the bean liquid. Combine the beans with the vegetables and put into a good sized gratin dish. Pour the bean liquid onto the beans and vegetables, until it almost covers them (adding stock if you need more liquid). Spread the crumbled cheese on top of the bean mixture. Mix the remaining olive oil with the bread crumbs and spread on top of the cheese. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the bread crumbs are browned.
Note: You can add other veggies, such as peas, fava beans, sliced napa cabbage, etc.