Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tomato Pinto Bean Gratin

Before it went in the oven
There was a large can of tomato puree sitting in my fridge for a couple of weeks after I opened it to use in a recipe and then decided against using it and I wanted to use it up before I was forced to toss it. As luck would have it I happened to be reading Feministe, a feminist blog, and the main author, Jill, posted an article about healthy eating with a link to NYT's "Recipes for Health." I decided to check it out and see if there were any recipes using tomatoes that I could follow to use up the puree in the fridge and I found this recipe for Provencal Tomato and Bean Gratin; it sounded good and called for ingredients that I mostly had on hand so I decided to try it. I am glad that I did, because it was very tasty and different from anything I have ever made using pinto beans.

I made a few alterations to the original recipe including using dried spices instead of fresh, because that was what I had available, and I also upped the spiciness of the dish. One of the best things about this meal is that the ingredients are so cheap and it is also a filling one dish meal that doesn't use meat. It is a little time consuming to put together (30-45 minutes) because there is some stove-top time and then time in the oven but none of the steps are difficult and the beans can be made in advance to speed the process along.

Below is the recipe, Enjoy!

Tomato Pinto Bean Gratin
1 lb. dried Pinto Beans
2 teaspoons Parsley
2 teaspoons Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 Parmesan Cheese Rind
1 28 oz can Tomato Puree (or sauce)
1 15 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 Onions chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Sugar
Salt to taste
Butter or oil for frying
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
Cover pinto beans with water in a large pot and let soak overnight (this allows the beans to absorb moisture and cuts down on cook time). The next day drain the beans and refill the pot with fresh water until the bean are a little more than covered with water. Bundle parsley, oregano, thyme, and parmesan rind together in piece of cheese cloth and put the cheese cloth in with the beans along with some salt. Begin cooking over medium heat and cook until beans are tender (about 2 hours).

Pretty much all the juice cooked off my pot of beans
Most of the bean broth should have cooked down but if not discard most of it leaving just a little broth.

Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium heat saute chopped onions in oil or butter for about 4 minutes then add in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes then pull off of heat and transfer to a large Pot.

Add the tomatoes, puree, cayenne, paprika, and sugar to the pot with the onions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes then add in the beans and a little of the bean broth and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour bean and tomato mixture into a 13x9 inch greased baking pan and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese has started to brown and the gratin is bubbling.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Makes about 6-8 servings.

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