I think it was a mention on 101 Cookbooks that sent me to the Amazon 'look inside' feature of Frank Stitt's Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill for this recipe--I had it printed out and in my huge notebook of recipes to try. I ended up making a rather bastardized version of the original, but it was very good and (in my simplified approach) not hard to throw together. I added about an 8" piece of chorizo that emerged from my freezer when I went looking for something in the "ham, sausage, etc" line as called for, but number of sausages or a little ham would lend their own character to this. The chorizo gave a spicy punch to what could have been on the bland side. If I use a different sausage next time I'll make sure it's a spicy one, or else add some spice separately--maybe smoked paprika would be good.
The beans-and-greens combination is almost creamy, at least at the moisture level I used, and the panko-cheese-olive oil topping gives a crunchy contrast. I think this one will end up in my comfort food repertoire.
Quick White Bean and Collard Green Gratin
heavily modified from Frank Stitt's Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cans lower-sodium collard greens, drained (I used Glory "Sensibly Seasoned" canned greens)
2 cans small white beans, drained and liquid reserved (I used Goya's descriptively labelled "Small White Beans")
1/4 -1/2 cup diced or chopped cooked ham hock, sausage, bacon or chorizo
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
1 rosemary sprig, leaves removed and finely chopped
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste (I skipped any additional salt, as the canned beans had plenty)
1/2 cup panko
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a 3-quart flat casserole, or a gratin dish, with cooking spray. (The original recipe called for rubbing the pan with another clove of garlic. Feel free--I never am convinced that I can taste any effect from this if there's other garlic in the recipe, and besides, I hate getting garlic all over my fingers.)
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion & bell pepper and saute till tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a minute. Set aside.
Put the drained beans and collards in a large mixing bowl and toss to mix them well. Add the chopped meat, the sauteed vegetables, half the cheese, a splash of olive oil, the rosemary, and salt and pepper. Mix gently and adjust seasoning. Add some of the bean liquid for extra moisture if needed.
Spread the mixture in the prepared dish. Top with the rest of the cheese, bread crumbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or till top is golden and crusty.
Serves 8-10 as a side, 4-5 as an entree.