Normally we wouldn't think of summer as casserole weather, but our summer has been wet and cool. Yesterday it barely got to 60 degrees, so we made our favorite all-in-one dish, which has been a huge hit everywhere we've served it.
The recipe comes from the Greens Cook Book (from the celebrated vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco) by Deborah Madison.
The book calls for white beans, but we use black-eyed peas because they cook faster, making this gratin easy to throw together quickly.
3/4 cup black-eyed peas
4 teaspoons fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves peeled but whole; 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
7 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried, chopped
2 large yellow onions sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 can diced plum or regular tomatoes (1 pound, 12 ounces) with juice
1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch squares (skin on)
1 cup bread crumbs
Wash black-eyed peas and cover with at least 2 cups boiling water.
Let stand one hour, rinse and cover in a sauce pan with 4 cups fresh cool water.
Bring to a boil with half the sage, the bay leaves, the 2 whole garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil.
Simmer for 30 minutes, add teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer until tender. Drain the liquid and set aside.
Warm 4 tablespoons of oil in a wide skillet with the rest of the sage and the t
hyme. Then add the onions, chopped garlic, and a teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook until the onions are soft.
Add the eggplant squares, stir well, cover and cook over medium heat for at least 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, and continue cooking until the eggplant is tender.
Preheat oven to 350.
In an lightly oiled casserole or gratin dish, add the eggplant mixture to the black-eyed peas and add plenty of fresh ground pepper and more salt — to taste. There should be enough liquid to come halfway up the side.
Spread the bread crumbs over the top and drizzle olive oil over the crumbs.
Bake about 30 minutes, until the gratin is hot and bubbling. Serves six.
Serve with a green salad, a piece of meat if you like, and a robut red wine, such as a zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, or merlot.