This recipe is part of a Southern Christmas Dinner.
It is adapted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table (Artisan).
Ideally, the beans (navy, cannellini or other white beans) should be cooked from scratch. But canned beans could be substituted if good quality. Try to find younger, more tender collard greens with thinner stalks. Once assembled, the gratin can be refrigerated and cooked later.
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds collard greens
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
7 cloves garlic, 6 chopped, one crushed
4 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup chopped bacon or pork sausage
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 to 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon softened butter
1/2 cup medium-coarse bread crumbs
1)Roll up half collard greens like a fat cigar. Cut off 1 1/2 to 2 inches of bottom stalk part and cut the rest into 1/2-inch wide ribbons. Repeat with the second half. Wash thoroughly and steam for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Gently squeeze out excess moisture.
2)Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
3)Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook just until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the collard greens and cook for 1 minute, stirring well.
4)Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the beans, bacon, half the Parmigiano, the rosemary, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
5)Butter a gratin dish large enough to hold the bean-collard mixture easily and rub the inside with the crushed garlic. Pour in the vegetables. Mix the remaining Parmigiano with the bread crumbs and spread evenly over the top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and cover with foil. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serves 10 to 12.