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Navy Bean Gratin with Pesto and Tomatoes

I had a lovely evening with dear friends and my folks last night. We met for dinner at a new Mexican restaurant that was so cheery and colorful I couldn’t stop craning my neck to look at everything. The pico de gallo was fresh as can be, and everything was savory and piping hot.

Afterward we gather at my parent’s house and got cozy in the living room with steaming cups of tea and quilts to chuckle our way through a witty episode of Nero Wolfe. πŸ™‚ It was a grand way to spend a winter’s eve. πŸ™‚

I’ve been experimenting with beans and grains a lot lately, wanting to make hearty yet nutritious things that taste good and stick to my ribs. I also wanted to use this marvy blue pot I found at a thrift store a while back. πŸ™‚

I found such a dish by combining earthy navy beans with springy pesto, perky tomatoes and ricotta cheese. It is nothing to look at, I’ll admit, but the flavor is quite splendid, reminiscent of a rich lasagna.

 Navy Bean Gratin with Pesto and Tomatoes


1 bag dried navy beans, soaked (quick method or overnight)
Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
6+ cups vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup pesto
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup ricotta cheese


  1. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in soup pot over medium-high heat, then add onion, bay leaves and thyme. Cook 3-5 minutes until onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  2. Add beans and 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth and simmer about 30 minutes until beans are nearly tender. Season with 1 tsp salt and cook for 15 minutes more. Let cool in broth.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a 2 quart baking dish. 
  4. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring gently until well incorporated. 
  5. Pour into baking dish and bake about 35 minutes.
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