White Bean and Celery Root Gratin

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 1 hour with cooked beans, largely unattended

A good cold-weather dish, one that can be made with all sorts of vegetables. Add more Parmesan for a cheesier gratin or eliminate the Parmesan altogether (and use oil instead of butter) for a dairy-free variation; just add more liquid if the beans are too dry.

Other beans you can use: navy, Great Northern, cannellini, flagolet, or cranberry.

Other vegetables you can use: potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, carrots, parsnips, summer squash, green beans, asparagus, or cabbage.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish

11/2 pounds celery root, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1 onion, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained but still moist, liquid reserved

1 teaspoon sweet or Spanish smoked paprika (pimentіn; optional)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves or 1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)

1/2 cup bread crumbs, fresh (see Fresh Bread Crumbs) or store-bought

Grease a 2-quart souff or gratin dish or a 9 — 13-inch baking pan with some of the butter. Preheat the oven to 400В°F. Put 3 tablespoons of the oil or butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the celery root and cook until it starts to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook until the celery root and onion are soft and golden, another 3 minutes or so.

Turn off the heat and stir in the garlic, beans, paprika, and marjoram; add the reserved bean liquid if the mixture is too dry (it should be like a thick stew). Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Spread the bean and vegetable mixture in the prepared pan. Top with Parmesan and bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil or butter. Bake until the edges and top are browned and bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes, depending on how deep your baking dish is. Serve immediately or let rest for up to an hour and serve at room temperature.

Variations

White Bean and Celery Root Gratin, Tuscan Style. Just a little simpler: Omit the red bell pepper and paprika and replace the marjoram with rosemary or sage.

White Bean and Tomato Gratin. Juicier: Replace the celery root with 4 or 5 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered and seeded. Cook the tomatoes as you would the celery root in Step 2. Proceed with the recipe, using several of the tomato pieces to decorate the top of the gratin.

White Bean and Vegetable Gratin with Bulgur Crust. Put 1/2 cup fine-grind bulgur in a heatproof bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over the top, stir, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff the bulgur with a fork, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside. Add 2 cups any chopped vegetables (see the list in the headnote) and use any fresh or dried herb you like. Proceed with the recipe, then top the gratin with the bulgur and bake.