Cannellini al Gratin Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Cannellini al Gratin

This hearty, crumb-topped main dish will serve six people generously, and still leave plenty to freeze in small portions for easy weeknight suppers. Using dried beans gives the dish superior texture and the beans a chance to soak up all the flavors of the garlic and herbs.



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1 ½ lb. dried cannellini beans
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6 sprigs plus 1 ½ Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, divided
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3 sprigs plus 3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley, divided
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½ medium onion, unpeeled, plus 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
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3 whole cloves
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½ large or 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds reserved; bulb quartered and diced (2 cups)
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12 cloves garlic (6 cloves peeled and halved; 6 cloves minced), divided
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3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
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2 cups diced carrots
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1 tsp. white wine vinegar
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¾ cup coarsely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese, divided
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1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs


1. Soak beans in large bowl of cold water overnight. Drain.

2. Put beans in 6-qt. Dutch oven, and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Tie together thyme and parsley sprigs, and add to pot. Pierce onion half with cloves, and add to pot. Add fennel fronds and stalks 
to pot with 6 halved garlic cloves. Partially cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, or until beans are just tender. Drain beans, and reserve cooking liquid. Discard herb bundles, onion, and fennel. Wipe out Dutch oven for next step.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots and diced fennel, and season with salt, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Add diced onion, season with salt (if desired), and cook, covered, 6 to 8 minutes, or until onion is soft and bottom of pan is browning, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant. Remove pot from heat, and stir in vinegar, using spatula to scrape up any browned bits of onion stuck to bottom of pot. Add beans, chopped thyme, 
2 Tbs. chopped parsley, 1/2 cup Grana Padano, and 1 1/2 to 2 cups bean cooking liquid. (Liquid should come to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches below top of beans; add more if necessary.) Stir well to combine.

4. Combine breadcrumbs, remaining 1 Tbs. chopped parsley, and remaining 1/4 cup Grana Padano in small bowl. Drizzle remaining 1 Tbs. oil into crumb mixture, and combine to moisten breadcrumbs. Spread breadcrumb mixture over bean mixture. Bake gratin, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is browned and juices have bubbled down below surface, leaving brown rim around edge of crust. Cool at least 20 to 25 minutes to allow beans to finish absorbing juices. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information: 

17 g
Total Fat: 
5 g
Saturated Fat: 
1 g
43 g
4 mg
150 mg
11 g
4 g
Serves 12

Comments on this Recipe

I have not try it just yet, but I would skip baking. With this amount of great flavors I would just cook steps 1-3 and make sure there enough veg. broth that will keep beans well cooked(for proper digestion) I also would of mash part of them for a texture.Great recipe.

This was great. I didn't have fennel on hand so I used extra carrots and celery. I also used some spicy chicken andouille sausage but next time will try vegetarian with some Trader Joe's vegetarian sausage. As for the hard bean problem, if you can find true cannellini beans, not navy or some other white bean, they cook very quickly.

I used white navy beans and it turned out way too dry. Great flavor, but even after 18 hours of soaking the beans, and even adding extra water before baking, it was too dry.

This took a while to make, and it turned out pretty dry, but then I added some jarred marinara sauce, and voila--delish!

Great flavor and this has become my favorite recipe for baking a pot of beans but as Jason indicated one needs to be careful about matching the cooking time in step one to the specific dried beans being used or else it can result in a very dry dish with undercooked beans. I've found that even different brands, let alone different types, of beans require different cooking times so it helps to know your normal cooking time for the beans (check the package for a guide). The very inexpensive, store brand navy beans I normally use, for example, require about 2 hours of cooking on the stove, after being soaked overnight before the baking time. It is also very important to give it the cooling time for the beans to absorb the juices since that not only improves the flavor and sauce but also finishes cooking the beans. One last point, leftovers freeze well or make a very good and different bean dip if pureed in a food processor.

I've learned fom my Indian friend that the only way to get softer beans without cooking for hours is to use a pressure cooker. With that, this came out really great. Thanks for sharing.

I have made this recipe twice; once as written and once with canned cannellini beans when I was in a rush. Both times turned out great. The flavors were delicious!

Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian it contains animal rennet Rennet is made from cows stomach You can however get vegetarian rennet but these cheeses are not made with vegetarian rennet

You can get vegetarian Parmesan cheese at Whole Foods. I get it all the time.

looks yummy

Great recipe, but I wish you'd include nutrition information with these recipes. I'm diabetic and need to track carbohydrate grams, fiber grams and sodium.

Sorry, just found the nutrition box :)


This is 7 points plus

White bean casserole

This is one our favorite weekend dishes! I modify the recipe quite a bit, depending on what I have on hand (add potatoes, omit fennel, add celery, etc) and the outcome is always still delicious. I also prefer to use canned beans for time saving purposes. I drain about half of the liquid from 2 cans of beans, then add some vegetable stock and simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce a bit. I make my own breadcrumbs by toasting wheat bread and running the toast through the food processor. So yummy and one of my meat-eating hubby's faves!