This is based on an Alice Waters' recipe. I added several elements (wine, Parmesan, and roasted instead of chopped tomatoes) to give the dish a flavor boost. I also swapped sage for oregano because my mom gave me some fabulous fresh oregano from her garden. It can be a vegetarian main or a side for simple grilled or roasted meat or fish. If you don't have any roasted tomatoes, you can substitute fresh tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes, or pureed tomatoes. I like to bake it in individual gratin dishes, but you can make it in a large dish as well. It takes about the same amount of time to bake. —Zoom
Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups water; let soak overnight. Or use the quick soak method. (Cover beans with water, bring to a hard boil for two minutes, take off the heat, cover with a lid, let sit for 1 hour.)
Drain beans and transfer to a medium saucepan; cover with water by 2 inches; add garlic cloves and bay leaves. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and skim foam from surface. Continue simmering beans until tender, 45 minutes or more, adding more water as necessary. Season beans with salt and set aside to cool in their liquid.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; let cook 2 minutes. Add wine. Cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Stir in tomatoes; cook 5 minutes more and remove from heat. Add oregano.
Drain beans, reserving liquid. Discard garlic and bay leaves. Transfer beans to skillet with vegetables; stir to combine. Pour bean mixture into a medium gratin or baking dish. Add enough bean cooking liquid to almost cover. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and remaining olive oil. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over dish.
Transfer gratin dish to oven and bake for 40 minutes until brown and bubbling, checking occasionally to make sure the gratin has not dried out. If necessary spoon a little of the bean cooking liquid into the side of the gratin, to avoid wetting the breadcrumbs.