How to be a vegetarian

Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 11/2 hours with cooked beans, largely unattended

Boulangerie potatoes, a classic French dish, was traditionally baked in the local bakers ovens for hours until supper time; the potatoes became meltingly soft, and the stock reduced to a rich glaze over top. The beans in this version add bulk and delicious flavor; it could easily be a main course or a side dish. I strongly recommend cooking your own beans for this dish; canned beans just won’t be the same.

Other beans you can use: pink or red beans.

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 cups cooked white beans, drained but still moist

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium russet or other high-starch (baking) potatoes or all-purpose potatoes, peeled

1 cup vegetable stock or water

3 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 325В°F. Stir a tablespoon of the thyme into the beans, taste, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the beans in a baking dish and set aside.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise and thinly slice into half-circles. Lay the potatoes in overlapping rows to cover the beans. Pour the stock over the top, dot with pieces of butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the remaining thyme.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned and glazed, another 45 minutes or so. Serve immediately or let rest for up to an hour and serve at room temperature.

Variations

Creamy Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes. A little luxury, with no work: Add 1/2 cup cream to the beans.

Tomatoey Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes. Prettier, with a little acidity and more flavor: Add 1 cup chopped ripe tomato (canned is fine; drain them first) or about 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried or Oven-Dried Tomatoes to the beans.

Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes with Leeks. Approaching elegance: Cook 2 cups chopped leeks in butter until very soft almost melting about 20 minutes. Top the beans with the leeks and then the potato slices.

Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes with Spanish Paprika. The smokiness of the paprika is so good with thyme: Add about a tablespoon of smoked Spanish paprika (pimentіn) to the beans and sprinkle some over the potatoes before baking if you like.

Boulangerie Beans and Sweet Potatoes. Use pinto beans and sweet potatoes. Stir into the beans a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire Sauce, Hold the Anchovies, and add a pinch of ground allspice or cinnamon if you like. Proceed with the recipe; sprinkle the top with brown sugar before baking.