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
- 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.
- 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.
- Heat the oven to 475 degrees, preferably on convection.
- 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.
- Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the kale/greens, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- 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.
- Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.
- If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.
- 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.
- Finish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread.