Shell beans aren’t really in season until late summer, but I found some beautiful borlotti beans at my neighborhood produce spot the other day and I couldn’t resist. The timing worked out perfectly for this dish, since I pretty much never use the oven in the summer anyway! If you don’t have fresh beans you can use canned here, but try to find shell beans if you can, because they have the most delicious creamy texture and are really excellent in this recipe with the crispy sage leaves. If you want to make this more of a meal, add some leftover chicken to the beans and serve with bread or polenta.
Shell Bean Gratin with Crispy Sage
- 1 1/2 cup freshly shelled beans, like borlotti (or use 1 14.5 oz can of borlotti or cannellini beans, drained)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- small handful sage leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
- high smoke-point oil (like avocado or sunflower) for frying the sage leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and ground black pepper
- If using fresh shell beans, boil a pot of salted water, add the beans, and cook until tender and creamy, which can take anywhere from about 15 to 40 minutes. Drain.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, mix the cooked fresh beans (or canned, if using) with the cream, mustard, and lemon and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the beans to a small oven-proof casserole or skillet and top with the Parmesan.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbling. While the beans are in the oven, heat 1/4 inch oil in a over medium-high heat in a small skillet. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Fry the sage leaves for about 10 seconds, until crispy but not brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sage leaves to the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- When the beans have finished baking, put them under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the Parmesan. Allow the beans to cool for 5 minutes before serving, topped with the sage leaves.