I love to use tomatoes when they’re perfectly red and ripe during the summer months when my garden is behaving properly. I probably overuse them, in fact, because I love tomatoes so much. Sometimes they’re good just sliced, with a little salt. They are also perfect for fresh sauces and salsas, and I’ll certainly cook them when necessary. None go to waste.
But then there are the winter months. Sometimes, “vine-ripened” tomatoes are available at my local grocery store, but these really fall flat in quality. Which isn’t surprising, of course. They sell them even attached to the vine, but they’re never the same.
Fortunately for all of us, there is such a thing as canned tomatoes. The kind you purchase. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve canned my own before, because my garden produces just enough for some nibbling and a little cooking, when, like I said, it’s behaving.
But I really love canned tomatoes. They serve a purpose. I think it’s important to buy the best, highest quality you can find, no matter the price. Because it does make a gigantic difference.
And while we’re on canned ingredients, let’s discuss canned beans. Specifically, white beans. From all of my white bean dip posts you know that I happen to respect canned beans. Certainly there’s nothing quite like home-made beans, from scratch, but white beans, like tomatoes in cans, are wonderful when necessary. (And for pureeing purposes, canned white beans process smoother than home-made, I’ve found.)
So today I’m simply making a gratin using canned white beans and tomatoes. The rest you should have on hand. Within an hour, this gratin was done. And it’s good. Please don’t tell me you don’t have time to cook.
White Bean-Tomato Gratin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 – 15.8 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and well drained
1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Fresh rosemary leaves, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and give them a good stir.
Add the tomatoes, and cook for just a few minutes. There should be no significant liquid in the bottom of the saucepan. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the white beans and remove from the saucepan from the heat. Lightly grease a baking dish. The size of the baking dish depends if you want a thin white bean and tomato layer, topped with a significantly larger amount of breadcrumbs and cheese, or a deeper dish, which is what I chose.
Place the bean and tomato mixture into the baking dish. Cover with the cheese.
And then cover with the breadcrumbs.
Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top, if desired.
And then sprinkle a few rosemary leaves over the top, if you like rosemary. This is completely optional. Honestly, there’s not much rosemary flavor in just those few leaves, but I happened to have them on hand, and like the looks of rosemary.
Bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Today I served the gratin with some sous vide flank steak, which was a really nice combination.
But the gratin would be delicious with just about any protein.
Even fish, because it’s not strongly flavored in any way.
note: If you don’t like rosemary, other options would be to add dried thyme to the white bean and tomato mixture while it’s cooking, or even dried basil or fresh basil. It’s just what flavor you want in the gratin. Even some fresh lemon or orange zest would be lovely. Or, just leave the basic flavors of the onion, garlic, and tomato shine on their own. There is nothing wrong with that.