Provencal Tomato and White Bean Gratin

Recipe inspired by The NYTimes

This tomato and bean gratin is a simple, yet elegant Provencal version of baked beans that makes a perfect main dish.

Ingredients

1 pound (2 cups) chick peas, white beans or pinto beans, washed and soaked for six hours or overnight
2 onions
2 whole cloves
5 garlic cloves, 2 crushed, rest minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Bay leaf (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp tomato paste
⅛ teaspoon sugar
 Pinch cayenne
½ cup freshly grated Gruyère and/or Parmesan 
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp RawSpiceBar's Herbes de Provence or dried thyme
Pinch RawSpiceBar's cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

1. In a large pot, bring soaked beans and 2 quarts water to a boil. Add halved onion, thyme and bay leaf and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt to taste and simmer another 30-60 minutes, until beans are tender. Strain beans.
2. Measure out 3 cups of the cooking liquid, taste and adjust salt. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add diced onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the remaining garlic, and stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, herbes de provence and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down
5. Add beans and 3 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant. 
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking dish. Spoon the tomatoes and beans into the baking dish. Mix breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl, and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle in an even layer over the beans. Bake 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the gratin is bubbling. Serve and enjoy!

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