Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans & Sausage


A panade is one of those dishes that is way better than it has any right to be — or than it looks to be. It's an assembly of day-old bread, shredded cheese, and handy pantry ingredients (in this case, white beans, Swiss chard, and sausage) that gets doused with broth and baked until bubbly, like a savory bread pudding meets French onion soup. Not quite a soup and not quite a casserole, it's something more: the best of both worlds.

Ingredients (Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish, or 8 to 10 as a side dish)

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf day-old crusty country bread, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces uncooked pork sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium bunch Swiss chard (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (3 cups beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces), divided
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
  • Coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Instructions

  1. Dry out or toast the bread cubes.
    • To dry out, place bread on a rimmed baking sheet and let sit out to dry at room temperature, stirring once or twice, at least 8 hours or overnight.
    • To toast, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 375°F oven until toasted, stirring halfway through, about 20 minutes total.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
    1. Add the sausage and onion and cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through and the onions are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, chop the chard stems into 1/2-inch pieces, thinly slice the chard leaves, and keep the stems and leaves separate.
    3. Add the chard stems to the pan and cook until the stems are softened, 3 to 5 minutes more.
    4. Add the chard leaves, garlic, and thyme, and cook until the leaves are wilted and tender, about 4 minutes more.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Place 1/3 of the bread cubes (about 4 cups) in an even layer in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
    1. Scatter 1/3 of the chard mixture (about 1 cup) and 1 cup of the beans over the bread.
    2. Scatter 2/3 cup of the cheese over the entire layer.
    3. Repeat with layering in this order in the same amounts: bread, chard mixture, cheese, remaining bread, and remaining chard mixture.
    4. Refrigerate the remaining 2/3 cup of cheese.
    5. Pour the broth evenly over the top of the panade.
  5. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 4 to 6 hours, or on the LOW setting for 8 hours.
  6. Sprinkle the reserved 2/3 cup cheese over the top of the panade in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  7. Serve in bowls, garnished with parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The sausage and chard mixture can be cooked up to 1 day ahead, cooled, and refrigerated until ready to assemble. The bread can be dried or toasted up to 1 day ahead.
  • Storage: Freeze leftover panade in individual containers. Reheat in the microwave on HIGH for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking.
  • Oven directions: Assemble the panade in a 9x13-inch casserole dish or Dutch oven. Cover with aluminum foil or a lid and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and continue baking uncovered for 15 minutes more.

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