Lima Bean Gratin with Herbed Bread Crumbs

  • Serves

    serves 6-8

  • Cook

    3 hours 15 minutes


By David Tanis

Published on January 5, 2016

These are savory baked beans, but they have no Boston sweetness. Think of this gratin as a meatless cassoulet meant to accompany a roast, or, if you're a true bean lover like me, a good green salad. It can be made with fresh shelling beans, including lima or cranberry, or any large dried white beans.


For the Beans

  • 3 cups dried Peruvian lima beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 14 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 12 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 12 tsp. whole fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Bread Crumbs

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups coarse, homemade bread crumbs, from a day-old French loaf
  • 12 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Make the beans: In a 4-qt. saucepan, combine the beans with 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook the beans until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the beans and reserve 3 cups of their cooking liquid.

Step 2

Heat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chile flakes, fennel seeds, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Scrape the onions into the bowl with the beans and stir to combine. Season the beans with salt and pepper and spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the reserved cooking liquid over the beans.

Step 3

Make the bread crumbs: On a cutting board, using the side of your knife, press and smash the garlic with a pinch of salt until it forms a smooth paste. Scrape the paste into a bowl and stir in the olive oil, parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano, season with salt and pepper, and toss until evenly combined.

Step 4

Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the beans (don't compact them) and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil, and continue baking until the beans are bubbling in the center and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the beans stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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