Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Boulagerie Beans and Potatoes

Traditional boulangerie (or bakery) potatoes are practically the definition of slow food. They used to be cooked in bakers' bread ovens for hours, until the potatoes had almost melted into the stock. You can make a perfectly good version of this dish at home, so don't despair if you don't have a bread oven handy. You can't, however, take a short cut with the baking time. This dish takes a good 2 hours from start to finish, making it perfect for a Sunday dinner.

I learned about boulangerie potatoes from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian".  This book is heavy enough to kill someone if you chuck it at them, but with good reason. It is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive guide to vegetarian cooking available. Not only does it have hundreds of recipes enriched with countless variations, but it also includes various sections on cooking techniques, from how to prepare dried beans to how to assemble veggie sushi rolls. In his version of the dish, Bittman uses a combination of beans and potatoes. He also provides a variation with tomatoes, which is my favorite. Boulangerie beans and potatoes make for a complete and comforting meal when served alongside some vegetables or a salad.

I served this with a side of my absolute favorite salad. Putting it together is so simple that I can't in good conscience call it a recipe: toss together lots of fresh arugula, a bit of salt, a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, a healthy drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice to taste.  It is especially good sprinkled with some almesan with nutritional yeast added to it. I crave this salad like I crave chocolate but your love for it will depend on how obsessed you are with arugula. 

Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes
Makes about 4 servings
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can canellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb potatoes (I used a combination of young read and yellow potatoes, but more robust baking potatoes will work fine), sliced into 1/8 inch / 3 mm thick half moons
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes (I used the kind packed in oil), chopped coarsely
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (reduce to 3/4 cup if also using wine)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • Optional: About 1/3 cup white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160 C.
2. Drizzle the bottom of a casserole dish with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the beans, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Note: I used a 7 x 11 inch Pyrex dish but an 8 x 13 inch dish would work too, just don't use anything bigger than that or you won't get a nice layered presentation.
3. Arrange the sliced potatoes in slightly overlapping lines until the tomato and bean mixture is covered.
4. Pour the vegetable stock over the potatoes. If using white white wine, drizzle it evenly over the potatoes.
5. Season the potatoes with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme and drizzle them with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus a little extra if you're feeling decadent).
6. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake undisturbed for 1 hour.
7. Uncover the dish and cook for another 45 minutes. By this time the potatoes should be nice and brown and most of the liquid should have evaporated. Serve immediately.


  1. Sara... this looks fantastic

  2. PETER! Glad you think it looks good. It's pretty tasty comfort food. Also, thanks for reading! It's nice to know my writing doesn't just get lost in the ether. Miss you!