White Bean Gratin
(Adapted from The Art of Simple Cooking)
Feel free to make this dish without a pressure cooker; just plan ahead, soak the beans overnight, and cook them for two hours before assembling the dish. The kombu keeps the beans from foaming under pressure. Discard it after using.
1-1/2 cups dried white beans, rinsed
1 2-inch piece of kombu
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup fire-roasted canned diced tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the beans in a 4 quart pressure cooker, add 4 cups water and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, cover, and bring up to high pressure and hold it there for 2 minutes. Release the pressure quickly, drain the beans, place them back in the pressure cooker, add 4 cups of fresh water, the kombu, bring to a boil, cover, bring to high pressure and maintain it for 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and let the pressure release naturally. Taste a bean to make sure it’s tender, but not mushy. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, in a heavy-weight , oven-proof pan (I prefer cast iron), heat the olive oil over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the shallots and the garlic, and saute until soft, about eight minutes. Fold in the tomatoes, thyme, and bay, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
3. Fold the cooked beans into the tomato mixture, smooth out in pan, and drizzle with the cooking liquid–just enough to not quite cover the beans. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the toasted bread crumbs, and bake for 40 minutes. Serve directly out of the pan.