Any dish that falls into the make-ahead category for Thanksgiving deserves an extra gold star, which is exactly the case for this vegetarian beans and greens gratin. You can assemble this side dish up to two days in advance and tuck it away in the fridge until Thursday rolls around.
This dish also brings a lighter touch when it comes to the cream and cheese — although not at the sacrifice of flavor. It's rich enough to stand as a main dish before or beyond Thanksgiving, but it won't weigh you down.
Beans and Greens, Baked
Consider this the Thanksgiving version of classic beans and greens. Tender white beans come together with broccoli rabe, whose bitterness is tamed by a quick braise in a little vegetable broth and aromatics. The mix is poured into a baking dish, spiked with just a little Parmesan cheese and whole milk, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbling.
Make-ahead moment: To get ahead, the broccoli rabe can be prepared and frozen for up to one month. When the big dinner (or just a busy weeknight) rolls around, let it thaw slightly, combine it with the beans, proceed with the recipe, and bake.
Broccoli Rabe and White Bean Gratin
Serves 6 to 8
olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
medium yellow onion, diced
large bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), stems trimmed and coarsely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
(15-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
grated Parmesan cheese, divided
panko or other coarse breadcrumbs
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish or an 8x8-inch baking dish with olive oil.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, garlic, and red pepper flakes if using, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the broth, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Remove from the heat and stir in the white beans and half of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Pour the milk evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes more.
Make ahead: The broccoli rabe can be prepared and frozen for up to 1 month. When ready to finish, let it thaw slightly, combine it with the beans, proceed with the recipe, and bake.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.