New Gratin Dishes in Time for Spring

IMG_2191A patina of soft-greenish blue and rust color creates the finish on this oval gratin dish by ceramist Elaine Corn. Imagine it with asparagus lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, golden brown from the oven. Or, use it as a serving dish for sugar and butter glazed spring carrots, sprinkled with sweet English peas. Make a mixture of bread soaked in milk, an egg or two, a little prosciutto, and some cheese and pour it into the gratin dish and bake for a savory bread pudding to scoop right at the table. Imagine it late spring with a Cherry Clafouti, or in summer with Roasted Figs and Pancetta, for example.


This rectangular gratin dish is a replica of a beloved dish purchased many years ago in Provence. Broken, and glued back together, Elaine used it as a mold and visual reference to bring this piece back to life. It is the perfect size  – 1 1/2 inches deep, 6 3/4 inches wide, and 8 3/4 inches long – for so many different dishes. The molded handles make it easy to grasp and bring from the oven to the table.

See these on the Cuisine page and in the Marketplace page of La Vie Rustic.


 Cranberry Beans with Sweet Red Peppers and Fried Bread
This looks gorgeous in either of the new gratin dishes. The beans combine with sautéed sweet peppers and onions to make the base of this simple dish. Chunks of bread lightly fried in olive oil are scattered across the top to finish,. Be sure to reserve the bean broth. This makes the perfect accompaniment for a grilled leg of lamb and you can use the some of the jus in the beans.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced mixed sweet peppers
3 cups cooked, seasoned Cranberry, Barlotti or Corona beans(Rancho Gordo is an excellent source for dried beans) with reserved broth and use sweet bay leaves when cooking
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of saffron
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
2 tablespoons meat jus—chicken, pork, beef, if available (optional)
For the topping:
1 (4-inch) piece of baguette or coarse artisan bread
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions; cook, reducing the heat to medium, until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add the peppers. Continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the onions and peppers are very soft, about 15 minutes. Do not brown.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Pour the onions, peppers and their cooking juices into a gratin dish. Add the drained beans and turn several times. Add a tablespoon or 2 of the reserved broth. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus the saffron, cumin and half the oregano, and the optional meat jus. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
To make the topping, cut the crust from the bread. Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the bread and sauté until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt.
With a slotted spoon place the fried bread bits on top of the beans and peppers.

Place in the oven and cook until bubbling and the bread is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining oregano.

Serves 4