Cranberry Bean Gratin

From The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters
6 servings

Soak overnight in 4 cups water: 1-1/4 cups dried cranberry or borlotti beans. Drain and cover with fresh water by 2 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off any foam. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so until the beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during the cooking.

While the beans are cooking prepare the breadcrumbs. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pare away all the crust from: 2 thick slices of levain or other country-style bread.

Cut the bread into cubes and process in a blender or food processor until the crumbs are a coarse, not too fine, texture. Toss with: Salt and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes, stirring the crumbs every few minutes for even browning. When the beans are cooked season to taste with salt

Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid. Meanwhile finely dice:
1/2 onion (about 1/4 cup diced)
1 small peeled carrot (about 1/4 cup diced)
1 small celery stalk (about 1/4 cup diced)

Heat in a heavy-bottomed pan: 1/4 cup olive oil
Add the diced vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add:
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Cook for 5 minutes and then stir in: 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned organic.
Cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Mix the beans with the vegetables and put into a medium-size gratin or baking dish. Taste for salt. Add enough bean liquid to almost cover. Drizzle with: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.
Cover with the toasted breadcrumbs and bake the gratin at 350°F for 40 minutes, checking occasionally. If the gratin is drying out, carefully spoon in a little bean liquid (pouring at the sides of the gratin dish to avoid getting the crumbs wet).

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