Tomato-Braised Gigante Bean Gratin (Pizza Beans)

This dish could or should be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen called the dish “pizza beans” to make it more appealing to her kids- so I did the same. 😉 She also had the genius suggestion of serving it with garlic bread, giving it even more appeal. Perelman described it as “a mash-up of a giant-beans-in-tomato-sauce dish from Greece and American-style baked ziti, with beans instead of noodles.” Heaven!

My husband and I enjoyed this dish very much. We are already big fans of Greek Gigante beans, by the way. 🙂 With the name “pizza beans,” my kids were expecting pizza, but the flavors in the dish were more like minestrone soup. It may have been more well-received if I had simply called it by the original title, Tomato & Gigante Bean Bake. 😉

This dish would also be wonderful as a cold-weather comfort food casserole. The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman, via smitten kitchen.com. I used a pressure cooker to cook the dried beans, incorporated the pressure cooker bean liquid as well as beet greens, and increased the amount of garlic. I plan to make it again in the winter and give it a different title. I’m sure it will be more well-received. It will be served with garlic bread, of course.

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large or 2 regular carrots, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white or red wine, optional
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) curly kale leaves, beet greens, and/or mixed baby greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (550 grams) crushed tomatoes (28-ounce or 800-gram can minus 1 cup; reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 pound (455 grams) giant white beans such as Italian fagioli corona, Greek gigante/gigandes, Royal Corona, or large lima beans
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable broth or pressure cooker bean liquid, as needed
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons (5 grams) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish, optional
  • garlic bread, for serving, optional
  1. To use a Pressure Cooker to “Soak” the Beans: Place 12 cups of water, 3 tsp of coarse salt and the dried beans in a pressure cooker. Raise to high pressure (2nd ring) for 2 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans.
  2. Cook the Beans in a Pressure Cooker: Place the drained beans with 9 cups of fresh water in the pressure cooker. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cook on low (1st ring) for 3 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans reserving the bean liquid.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. In a 2 1/2-to-3-quart (ideally oven-safe) deep sauté pan, braiser, or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Season well with salt and black or red pepper. Cook, sautéing, until the vegetables brown lightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the kale/greens, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick (canned tomatoes range quite a bit in juiciness), add up to 3/4 cup broth/bean liquid, 1/4 cup at a time.
  9. Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.
  10. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle the beans first with the mozzarella, then the Parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper color, you can run it under the broiler.
  12. Finish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread.
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Greens & Cheese Quesadillas

I have received an exorbitant amount of Swiss chard in my CSA box so far this season. It’s a good thing that I absolutely love it! and… Who doesn’t love chard when it’s combined with fabulous cheese?!?!

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Gabriela Camara. I have made these quesadillas a couple of times with my CSA greens, using both raw milk extra (extra) sharp yellow cheddar (from Trader Joe’s) as well as Cabot extra sharp 3-year aged white cheddar. I have also used combination of greens including Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, as well as baby bok choy.

I adapted the recipe by increasing the garlic as well as using a red onion, whole wheat flour tortillas, and chipotle salsa, avocados, fresh lime, and sour cream, for serving. I also microwaved the assembled quesadillas for a quick dinner! We ate them with refried beans on the side. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 for dinner or up to 8 as an appetizer

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola
  • Âœ medium white or red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 10 ounces Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, or a combination of greens including beet, turnip, or bok choy, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • coarse salt
  • 6 ounces Toma cheese or sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 8 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • Salsa Roja, Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa Verde, or Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa, for serving
  • avocado slices and lime wedges, for serving, optional
  • sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
  2. Add greens a handful at a time, letting wilt slightly before adding more. Pour in Âœ cup water and cook, tossing occasionally, until greens are tender, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Add lime juice; season with salt. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
  4. Assemble the quesadillas: Place on tortilla on a large plate. Mound grated cheddar on top and spread evenly. Top with sautéed greens and another tortilla.
  5. Microwave for 1 minute, 35 seconds on high.
  6. Remove and slice into pieces. Repeat until all filling is used.
  7. Serve immediately with sliced avocado, prepared salsa, and sour cream, as desired.

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Greek Pie with Mixed Greens

I love all of the greens that I receive in my CSA share. Mixing different greens in the filling of this adaptation of Greek spinach pie, Spanakopita, made it incredibly flavorful.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. I used one-half pound of spinach in addition to approximately one pound of mixed CSA greens including red chard, beet greens, and kohlrabi greens in the filling. I sautéed the greens instead of boiling them as well. I doubled garlic and the onions, and used one yellow onion and one red onion.

Years ago, I made a “low-fat” savory pie with a phyllo pastry crust. The reduced-fat technique was using cooking oil spray between the layers of pastry instead of brushing them with butter or oil. I love it! I used this method when making this pie as well. Great.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, or mixed greens, stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • coarse salt
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ÂŒ cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of dill and parsley
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed
  • cooking oil spray or 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons each melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil, combined, for brushing/spraying the phyllo pastry

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  1. Stem and slice the greens into ribbons, about 2-inches wide for more tender greens, and 1/2-inch wide for heartier greens. Wash them in 2 changes of water, lifting them from the water so that the dirt stays behind.
  2. Thinly slice the chard stems and soak in a bowl of water. Lift from the water like the greens.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375ÂșF, preferably on convection. Oil or butter a 10-inch tart or cake pan (I used cooking spray and a 9-inch ceramic deep pie dish).
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions and rinsed chard stems. Cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Stir in the damp greens. Sauté until wilted, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat.
  8. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Crumble in the feta.
  9. Add egg-cheese mixture to the greens, mix to combine.
  10. Line the pie dish with 7 pieces of phyllo, spraying between each layer with cooking oil spray or lightly brushing each piece with butter or oil and turning the dish after each addition so that the edges of the phyllo drape evenly over the pan.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, fill with the greens mixture. IMG_4913
  12. Fold the draped edges in over the filling, lightly brushing the folded in sheets of phyllo, then layer the remaining 5 pieces on top, brushing each piece with cooking spray, butter or olive oil.
  13. Trim the edges and then stuff into the sides of the pan. Make a few slashes in the top crust so that steam can escape as the pie bakes. 
  14. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is golden. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature. 

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If you like this you may also like:

Green-Lentil Curry

I just feel so healthy eating a dish like this. 🙂 Served over brown rice with yogurt and warm naan, this dish is an amazing complete vegetarian meal. The lentils have a little bit of heat and the yogurt tempers it perfectly.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Madhur Jaffrey. It was voted one of their “Best New Vegetarian” dishes. I believe it! 🙂 I doubled the recipe, used French green lentils, a combination of ghee and coconut oil, and substituted beet and turnip greens for the kale. Satisfying and tasty!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 4 garlic clove, put through a garlic press
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 2 tablespoon of water
  • 2 1/2 cups dried French green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into 3/4-inch lengths
  • 8 ounces kale, or other greens stemmed and leaves cut into ribbons (I used about 10 cups of mixed beet & turnip greens)
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • brown Basmati rice, warm naan, and plain Greek yogurt, for serving
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander and ground cumin. Stir in 1/2 cup of water to make a paste.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for 5 seconds, just until sizzling.
  3. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until thick, about 1 minute longer. IMG_0461
  5. In a saucepan, combine the lentils with the turmeric and 10 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are barely tender.
  6. Add the green beans, greens, carrot, three-fourths of the cilantro and the cayenne and season with salt.
  7. Cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 15 minutes.
  8. Scrape in the spice paste and the remaining cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, then serve.

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Summer Vegetable Tortilla Casserole

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If you want to make a summer casserole, this is IT. This dish incorporates wonderful summer corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and Swiss chard. I threw in all of my beet greens too. 🙂 This dish was originally named Layered Tortilla-Tomato Casserole with Greens and Melted Cheese in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine by Rick Bayless (one of my absolute favorite chefs). I adapted the recipe by adding more tortillas and vegetables, and by steaming the corn tortillas rather than frying them in oil. FABULOUS!!!

Great to feed the crowd at Fiesta Friday #26 at The Novice Gardener!

Yield: Serves 8 as a main dish

For the 6 cups Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce:

  • 8-12 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (or 3/4 oz -about 9 to 12- stemmed, dried chipotle chiles)
  • 12 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 1/2 pounds (9 medium-large round or 28 to 34 plum) ripe tomatoes
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • coarse salt, about 2 tsp

For the Casserole:

  • 6 to 8 cups loosely packed spinach or 1/2-inch long sliced chard leaves (12-oz bunch) (I also included 1 bunch of beet greens)
  • 2 medium (12 oz total) zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 medium ears corn, husked, kernels cup from the cob
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or other melting cheese
  • 16-20 corn tortillas
  • about 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

To Make the Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce:

  1. For the canned chiles, simply remove from the adobo sauce. For dried chiles, toast them on an ungreased griddle or skillet over medium heat, turning regularly, and pressing flat with a spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.
  2. While the chiles are soaking, roast the unpeeled garlic on the griddle or skillet, turning occasionally, until soft (they will blacken in spots), about 10 to 15 minutes; cool and peel.
  3. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes, then turn and roast the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
  4. Working in batches, in a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes with their juices, rehydrated or canned chiles and garlic to a medium-fine puree.
  5. Heat the 2 T of oil in a medium-size (4-quart) heavy pot over medium heat. Add the tomato puree and stir nearly constantly for 8 to 10 minutes as it sears and thickens.
  6. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons.

To Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. In a vegetable steamer, steam the greens, covered, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes for spinach, chard, and/or beet greens. (I steamed the greens in the pasta pot using the large insert.) Immediately spread out on a baking sheet to cool, then roughly chop.
  2. Steam the diced zucchini until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes, then spread out to cool.
  3. Sprinkle the vegetables with 1/4 tsp of salt.
  4. Set out the corn, tomato sauce, and shredded cheese.

To Prepare the Tortillas:

  1. Place 5 tortillas at a time in a tortilla warmer or on a microwave safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel, followed by the lid of the warmer or plastic wrap for the plate. Microwave on high for 1 minute to make warm and pliable. Cut in half. (I did this as I prepared each layer of the casserole.)

To Make the Casserole:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom, then lay out 8-10 tortilla halves in a single layer, arranging them to cover as much sauce as possible.
  3. Evenly spread on the greens, a scant 1 1/2 cups of sauce and 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  4. Top with another layer of 8-10 tortilla halves. Spread on the corn and the same amount of sauce and cheese.
  5. Top with a third layer of 8-10 tortilla halves, the zucchini, and another round of sauce and cheese.
  6. Top with remaining 8-11 tortilla halves, lightly brush or spray the tortillas with extra-virgin olive oil, and top with remaining sauce and cheese.
  7. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned.
  8. Let stand for a few minutes before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro, then use a spatula (preferably a squared-off metal one) to transfer the pieces to warm serving plates.

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One Year Ago:

Spinach & Ricotta Pappardelle

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A lot of dishes seem to be “deconstructed.” This deconstructed ravioli truly tasted like ravioli- and smelled AMAZING. This recipe was adapted from the Food and Wine column “Chef Recipes Made Easy.” It is a modification of homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta, leeks, scallions, and spinach, served in a butter-sage sauce, made by Lidia Bastianich. This dish is seasonless but I was able to make it this time of year with gorgeous CSA spinach and beautiful sage from my garden. A quick, flavorful, dinner-party worthy, vegetarian pasta!!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 14 ounces pappardelle pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 12 to 24 cups spinach, sliced into 1-2″ ribbons (other greens can also be incorporated such as chard and/or beet greens- stems chopped into 1/4- inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle pasta until al dente. Drain the pappardelle thoroughly, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the scallions and sage and cook over high heat until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. If using chard or other greens, add the chopped stems at this point and sauté until softened.
  3. Add the spinach and/or additional greens in large handfuls and cook, stirring, until wilted.
  4. Add the pasta, butter and ricotta and toss. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and the Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook over moderately low heat, tossing, until the sauce is thick and creamy, adding more of the pasta water as needed. Transfer the pappardelle to bowls and serve right away, with grated Parmigiano.

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One Year Ago:

Buckwheat Crepes with Mix & Match Creamy Mushroom, Caramelized Sweet Onion, SautĂ©ed Greens, & Citrus Shrimp Fillings

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Crepes are a special dish in my family. Growing up, my dad made crepes every Sunday morning. He gave me my fabulous crepe pans when I went away to college. 🙂 I made this dish to celebrate a BIG birthday coming up for my Mom when she and my brother came to visit. It was fun to eat with a group because the toppings could be mixed and matched to each persons’ taste. This recipe was adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • canola oil, for the crepe pans or skillet
  • Assorted fillings (see below)

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For the Crepes:

  1. Combine the melted butter, both flours, the milk, eggs and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Let the batter rest at room temperature at least 1 hour or overnight. Stir in the parsley, if desired.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the crepe pans (I use 2 at a time) or a skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles in it. Lightly oil the pan(s), then add a scant 1/3 cup batter and quickly swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until the crepe sets and browns around the edges, about 2 minutes. Carefully lift with a flexible metal spatula, flip over and cook about 30 more seconds. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil as needed and stacking the finished crepes. Wrap the crepes in a damp dish towel and place in the oven to reheat, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with assorted fillings.

Note: Crepes can be made a day ahead. Just wrap in plastic and refrigerate, then reheat before assembling.

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Creamy Mushroom Filling:

  • 3 T butter
  • 20 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add wild mushrooms and 2 thyme sprigs; saute until the mushrooms are golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and add 2/3 cup heavy cream; toss to warm through.
  3. Remove from the heat and add a handful of parsley.

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Caramelized Sweet Onion Filling:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 sliced onions and 2 thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

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Sauteed Greens Filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 16-20 oz (or more!) mixed greens such as spinach, kale, chard, beet greens (I used kale, chard & beet greens)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and cook until just wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Citrus Shrimp Filling:

  • 1 1/4 pounds shrimp (peeled)
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 2 sprigs parsley or tarragon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  1. Sauté shrimp in 2 tablespoons butter with lemon zest, tarragon (or parsley) sprigs, and salt and pepper until the shrimp turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice and white wine and simmer 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

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