Cookbook Author Molly Stevens Talks 'All About Dinner'
Molly Stevens is a freelance food writer and author of several award-winning cookbooks, the latest of which — All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice — offers not only recipes, but tips on cooking essentials, from stocking your cupboard to mastering the basics of scratch cooking. We're talking about her latest book and the larger culinary lessons within All About Dinner.
Stevens lives in Williston, and has taught cooking from École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, to the French Culinary Institute in New York City (now the International Culinary Center), to Montpelier's New England Culinary Institute.
White bean gratin with tomatoes and sausage
- About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Two links fresh Italian sausage (about 8 ounces), hot or sweet, casings removed
- One medium yellow onion (about 7 ounces), coarsely chopped
- Two garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Pinch of mellow red pepper flakes (Marash or Aleppo), or crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 3½ cups cooked white beans (cannellini or Great Northern), drained, or two 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
- One 14½-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs or panko crumbs
- 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup)
- Hot sauce such as Cholula or Tabasco for serving (optional)
- Heat the oven to 325°F convection (350°F non-convection) with a rack in the upper third. Lightly oil a medium gratin dish, shallow baking dish, or ovenproof skillet (10-inch works).
- Cook the sausage: Heat two teaspoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and use a spoon or metal spatula to flatten it into large chunks. (You get better browning on large flat chunks than crumbles.) Then cook, flipping it occasionally, until browned and cooked through, seven to 10 minutes. Break the sausage into bite-size pieces and transfer it to the gratin or baking dish (or skillet), leaving the fat and drippings behind in the pan. You should have a generous tablespoon of fat in the pan. If there is more, discard some; if less, add a little more olive oil.
- Sauté the aromatics. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened and lightly colored, about five minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and a few good grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, one to two minutes. Transfer the aromatics to the gratin dish.
- Assemble the gratin. Add the beans, tomatoes, with their juice, and parsley to the sausage and onions in the baking dish. (I like to combine everything directly in the baking dish to avoid dirtying a mixing bowl, but if you find it awkward, by all means, use a large bowl).
- Stir gently to combine without smashing the beans, then add a generous pour of olive oil (about two tablespoons), and season boldly with salt and pepper. Taste, being sure to taste both the aromatics and a bean, and correct the seasoning as needed.
- Use the back of a spoon to spread the bean mixture into an even layer.
- Bake the gratin. Sprinkle the top of the beans with the bread crumbs and cheese. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil.
- Bake, uncovered, until heated through and beginning to brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes. If the top is not as brown and crisp looking as you like, slide the gratin under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve hot or warm, passing hot sauce at the table, if you like.
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