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Comfort food has never gotten better than with this caramelized shallot and bean gratin with braised kale. Topped with prosciutto breadcrumbs and baked until golden brown, this gratin hits the spot every single time.
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What makes this dish special
Every time I watch a cooking video that features a braised bean dish, I can't stop thinking about it. My love for beans has grown so deep over the years that just watching someone dunk crusty bread in a bowl of simmered beans makes me swoon. So after watching too many videos, I finally decided to create my version.
Since beans have a subtle flavor, it's easy to incorporate almost any flavor you please. I chose to enrich the dish by adding caramelized shallots, lacinto kale, and prosciutto breadcrumbs. Pop the caramelized shallot and bean gratin in the oven to crisp up the breadcrumb topping and serve this comforting dish with crusty bread on the side. One dunk and I think you'll join me in the bean-loving club.
- Shallots: Small, mild-flavored onions with a hint of garlic. As the shallots caramelize, they become sweeter and have a jam-like consistency.
- Lacinto kale: Also known as dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale, lacinto kale has long, dark green, bumpy leaves. You can also use any other leafy green vegetable such as spinach, or Swiss chard.
- Cannellini beans: Large, white Italian beans with a creamy texture. For the sake of ease, I used canned beans but you can cook them from scratch. If you can't find cannellini beans, use Great Northern beans or navy beans instead.
- All-purpose flour: The starch acts as a thickener, thickening the consistency of the sauce. You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour for a gluten-free option.
- White wine: Adds acidity and flavor to the overall dish. If you're not a fan of wine, you can use chicken stock instead.
- Prosciutto: A thinly sliced Italian dry-cured ham. You can also substitute it with thinly sliced pancetta.
- Breadcrumbs: For the best option, use panko breadcrumbs, which are flakier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs.
How to make caramelized shallot and bean gratin
Step 1: Caramelize shallots
Let's start making the gratin by preparing the item that takes the longest, the caramelized shallots. Properly caramelizing shallots or onions takes a bit of time, but the result is always quite beautiful.
In an oven-safe skillet or cast iron over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add thinly sliced shallots and season them with salt. Adding the salt in the beginning allows the moisture to seep out and helps the shallots cook more evenly.
Continue to sauté until they become beautifully browned and caramelized, which should take about 25-30 minutes. If the pan starts to dry, a splash of water can be added.
Step 2: Cook beans
Once the shallots are caramelized, add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and fresh thyme to the skillet, sautéing for an additional minute. The red pepper flakes add just a touch of heat, but you can omit it, if you prefer.
Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour, stirring to coat the ingredients evenly. Pour in white wine, bringing it to a simmer and allowing it to continue until almost all the liquid has evaporated. If you don't like white wine, you can omit this step.
Add drained and rinsed cannellini beans, chicken or vegetable stock, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the skillet. Stir occasionally and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, add chopped lacinto kale, simmering for an additional 5 minutes or until the kale becomes tender. To add a touch of creaminess to the caramelized shallot and bean gratin, add a splash of heavy cream.
In the meantime, prepare the prosciutto breadcrumbs by combining chopped prosciutto, toasted panko breadcrumbs, and grated parmesan in a medium bowl. I prefer using panko instead of regular breadcrumbs because panko has a lighter, flakier texture. You can also use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
You might be wondering why we need to toast the panko if we're going to bake the dish later on. Toasting the panko beforehand allows it to evenly brown. If you skip this step, the breadcrumbs won't brown evenly in the oven.
Step 3: Bake
For the final touch, sprinkle the prosciutto breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top, and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the prosciutto crisps up.
Once out of the oven, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and give a final seasoning of freshly cracked black pepper if you desire.
Serve the caramelized shallot and bean gratin with crusty bread on the side and get ready to dig in!
This dish is everything I crave and more. It's comforting and incredibly satisfying but doesn't taste heavy at all. I will definitely be enjoying this meal year-round, rain or shine!
Frequently asked questions
Cannellini beans offer a creamy texture, but if unavailable, you can use Great Northern beans or navy beans as suitable substitutes.
Absolutely! Substitute all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour and panko breadcrumbs for gluten-free panko for a gluten-free option.
I recommend reheating leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees F until hot. You can also use the microwave if you prefer a quicker method. Just keep in mind that the breadcrumbs won't crisp up after reheating.
Here are some of my favorite dishes to pair with the bean gratin:
Caramelized Shallot and Bean Gratin
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ ounce prosciutto chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
Caramelized shallot and bean gratin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 shallots thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 bunch lacinto kale stems removed, chopped
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- crusty bread for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Make prosciutto breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add panko and toast until golden brown, stirring frequently. Let cool slightly. Combine toasted panko with prosciutto, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a oven-safe skillet or cast iron over medium heat. Add shallots and season with salt. Continue to saute until shallots are browned and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a splash of water.
- Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme, and saute for 1 minute. Add flour, stirring to coat. Add white wine and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add beans, chicken or vegetable stock, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add kale and simmer for 5 minutes or until kale is tender and soft. Add heavy cream, stirring to combine. Season with black pepper and remove from heat.
- Sprinkle prosciutto breadcrumbs on top in an even layer and transfer skillet to the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown and prosciutto is crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Serve with crusty bread if desired.