You know, like mac ‘n’ cheese, minced mac, plus beans …
This recipe was created the way a lot of recipes are done these days: my daughter, Abby, came into the kitchen, saw a pot of beans in the kitchen, and said, “You know what would be really good? If you made beans the way you made machines and cheese.” And he was right. To some extent. Because here’s the beauty of this dinner: all the bechamel sauce that is usually so crucial to making mac and cheese? I skipped that part. Cream? That too he set aside. Multi-pot and frying pan thing? No! This meal is in the kitchen one pot. The relationship with mac and cheese is mostly mixed with crispy garlic bread and cheese made with peppers – for me the best version of mac and cheese always has a sharp cheddar, gruyère and parm. And a lot of pepper.
Here are some ways you might want to expand this recipe:
- You’re trying to convince a young vegetarian (or not so young!) To taste like beans
- You have obsessive macaroni and cheese at home and you want to expand your horizons
- You have the probabilities and extremes of the cheese you would like to use. This recipe requires only one cup of cheese, much less than most machine and cheese recipes.
- You need something fast on the table.
And finally, you would love to like something.
Beans ‘n’ Cheese
I served it with the simplest tomato salad – basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped red onions – but the simple green salad and rough pieces of bread will round it out for dinner.
6 tablespoons olive oil
Chopped small onion (about 1/2 cup)
freshly milled kosher salt and black pepper
a little red pepper flakes
Drain and wash 4 1/2 cups (or 15 15-ounce 3 cans) of cooked white beans, such as Great North or cinnamon
1/2 cup grated gruyère
1/2 chopped sharp cheddar
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh thyme with 3 or 4 branches
Place in the oven to burn.
In a large skillet to place in the oven over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, onion, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the gruyère and cheddar, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, mix the pancake with the garlic powder, Parm, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil, stored cheese and more salt and pepper. It will feel like a lot of topping, but it lasts. You will want a crisis.
Put the pan in the oven and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until slightly browned. (Keep it from burning over your eyes.) Remove the pan with an oven mitten – the handle will be very hot! Let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Serve with fresh thyme.