For many carnivores, giving up meat leaves a feeling of deprivation. And when vegetables are prepared or cooked badly (i.e., with no imagination), there is a feeling of… well, almost self-pity while eating tasteless plants. But when vegetable dishes are inspired, one doesn’t get the feeling of missing anything even when there is no meat in the meal.
This is one of those vegetable dishes. Tender potatoes and beans are tossed with melted butter, a bit of lemon juice, seasonings, spices and herbs, then topped with a mixture of shredded cheese and bread crumbs. During baking, the beans and potatoes soak up all the flavors of the butter, citrus, seasonings, spices and herbs while the topping gets crusty and gooey at the same time.
Cheese-topped baked beans and potatoes
- 3 to 4 potatoes skin on, boiled in salted water just until tender
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest of half a lemon
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- chopped herbs (whatever herbs you prefer)
- 1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese (any kind)
- 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs (see notes after the recipe)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- While still warm, cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Peel or leave the skin on, it’s up to you.
- In a bowl, toss together the potatoes, beans, onion, garlic, butter, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you’re using. Dump everything into a baking dish (I used an 8-inch round dish).
- In another bowl, toss together the shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Scatter the cheese-crumb mixture over the potato-bean mixture.
- Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted, the crumbs are browned and the filling is hot.
When buying bread crumbs, check the package to determine if the bread crumbs are sweetened or unsweetened. Plain bread crumbs are unsweetened.