All About Beans, Gluten-Free, Mediterranean Dishes, Vegan

Celery and Butterbean Gratin.

The star of this dish is a versatile Mediterranean-style sauce …. using preserved lemons.

Gratin originated in French cuisine, and traditionally uses vegetables cooked in a cream sauce, and topped with crispy brown crust, which can be toasted under the grill.

A while ago I made a jar of preserved lemons, however, you can buy jars of preserved lemons in many supermarkets these days.

You could try a variety of vegetables using this sauce recipe, for example: potatoes with leeks, or asparagus and mushrooms.

I chose celery this time.  You know …. Celery …. often found limp and languishing at the back of the salad drawer in the fridge.  Forgotten, underused, and annoyingly stringy. 😦

So I thought I’d give celery a bit of a boost.  It does, after all, apparently have all sorts of super health benefits ( try googling it for more info.).

Having chosen celery, I then thought that big, fat, melty butterbeans would make an excellent contrast for the celery… and it is without doubt a good combination.  Definitely a keeper.

So, back to the sauce: this is my third try at a lemony gratin sauce, and now I think I’ve got it right, preserved lemons really are something to shout about!  This would make a fab. sauce for pasta too.  Preserved lemons have a beautifully soft lemon flavour, mellow and gentle …very different from using fresh lemons. Remember to remove the pulp and rinse the peel thoroughly.

Here’s my recipe to have a go at making preserved lemons yourself: (click image for link)



depending on how hungry you are and what you’re serving with this dish…

it will make 2-4 servings



  • 450gms. pre-cooked butterbeans.
  • 500 gms. celery : washed trimmed and de-stringed, and cut into thirds (see pics.).
  • Cook’s note: to remove the strings, trim the washed celery and then slide a sharp knife gently from top to bottom down the celery.  The strings will start to come away.  Repeat 2-3 times with each stick, particularly the outer sticks, which are tougher.
  • 200 ml. water.
  • approx. 300 gms. courgette (zucchini) washed and finely sliced.
  • 1-2 tbs. olive oil


  • 3/4 of a preserved lemon: rinse thoroughly and remove pulp. (Reserve the last quarter for the topping).
  • 3 large garlic cloves : peeled and roughly chopped.
  • 8 gms. fresh thyme: roughly chopped.
  • 2 tbs. chickpea flour.
  • 1 tsp. salt.
  • 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper.
  • 250 ml. non-dairy single cream (I used oat cream).
  • 200ml. non-dairy crème frâiche (I used oat crème frâiche).  Non-dairy yogurt would be a perfectly good alternative.
  • Celery cooking water ( approx. 200 ml.).


  • 40 gms. almonds: coarsely ground.
  • 5 tbs. nutritional yeast.
  • 3 gms. fresh thyme: finely chopped.
  • 1/4 preserved lemon peel: very finely sliced.


  • In a wide pan over a medium heat, sauté the courgettes in 1 – 2 tbs. of olive oil for a few minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Place the celery in a deep-sided pan with 200ml. water.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover with a good fitting lid, and simmer gently for 15 mins.
  • Remove the celery, and reserve the celery cooking water for the sauce.
  • In a blender, place all the sauce ingredients, and blend until smooth.

Construct the dish:

Gratin is traditionally cooked in a shallow ceramic dish.

My dish measures 22cm.x 22 cm. x 5 cm.

  • Lightly oil the dish, and then place the sautéed courgettes in the base of the dish.
  • Then add the butterbeans.
  • Then lay the poached celery evenly over the dish to cover the beans.
  • Pour the blended sauce carefully over the dish.
  • Scatter the coarse ground almonds and nutritional yeast over the top.
  • Then scatter the finely chopped fresh thyme and the sliced lemon peel.
  • Place in the oven: Gas Mk. 6 / 200C for 45 mins.

Remove from the oven, and leave the gratin to settle for just a few minutes before serving.

Serve with salad … baked potatoes …. roasted tomatoes … or with a nice fresh slice of baguette 🙂





Bon Appetit!




La Paix



4 thoughts on “Celery and Butterbean Gratin.”

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