This recipe was inspired by Alice Waters' cranberry bean gratin from The Art of Simple Food. We've eaten cranberry beans in many delicious combinations at several of our favorite restaurants and realized we could make a very good side dish into an excellent main course by adding kale and goat cheese to the mix.
We use dried cranberry beans but you could substitute a similar bean - cannellinis would work, as would pintos or white beans. And we generally find that we prefer the texture and flavor you get with dried beans but in a pinch canned would work too. —Foxes
Soak your beans overnight in lightly salted water. Change the water to cook them; bring it to a boil then turn it down to a simmer and let them cook, simmered, until tender (this should take about 45 minutes).
Meanwhile, prepare the kale by stripping the leaves from the thick stems. A quick way to do this is to grip the thick bottom of the stem in one hand while sliding your other hand down the stem, pulling the leaves off. Chop the leaves coarsely. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Add the kale, the tomatoes (with their juices), and about 1/2 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and give a good stir. Cover the dish and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale has wilted and cooked down - about 10 minutes.
Add the beans and stir the mixture to even out the distribution of kale. Add more bean liquid, if needed - you want the liquid to come up close to the top of the beans, but not cover them.
Use a spoon to scoop out dollops of goat cheese, distributing them across the surface of the dish. Push about half of them down into the beans; let some of the others stay near the top.
In a bowl, mix your breadcrumbs with about a tablespoon of olive oil to coat them. Sprinkle them over the top of your dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the mixture is bubbling.