Monday, November 16, 2009

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Leftover cassoulet - thick and hearty!

Work has eased up somewhat, so I'm back to weekday cooking . . . sort of.

Recently, I restocked some pantry basics, such as pasta, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable broth, and canned diced tomatoes. I still need to get my butt over to the big Asian supermarket in Fairfax, Virginia, to pick up some Asian noodles, kombu (dried seaweed used to make vegan stock for soups), and rice.

I'm still arriving home from the office later than usual. What I've been doing lately is finding
recipes that I can prepare in mass quantities to avoid cooking everyday. The plan: cook one day; reheat the next. The chili recipe that I posted two weeks ago is a perfect example of this.

As good as that chili recipe was, I think this vegetarian cassoulet recipe that I found on Epicurious might be even better. A cassoulet is a French "peasant stew" typically made with meat and beans. It is a hearty dish that, like the chili, tastes better the next day when all the flavors have had time to meld.

I incorporated some of the suggestions that were made in the comments section on Epicurious, including the addition of a can of fire roasted tomatoes. I also doubled the ingredients listed below, which ended up being a mistake. I was only cooking for two, and I ended up with an insane amount. The recipe, as written, is more than sufficient for two people over the course of two meals.

Serves 4 to 6
  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 14-ounce cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 quart water (I used half vegetable broth and half water)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread Crumb Topping:
  • 4 cups fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other large heavy pot. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, herb sprigs, bay leave, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the beans, water (or broth), and canned tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until the carrots become tender (not mushy), about 30 minutes.

While the cassoulet simmers, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and begin preparing the bread crumb topping. Toss the first three ingredients together and spread on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on a middle rack and toast for 10-15 minutes, until the crumbs become crisp and golden. When the crumbs cool, stir in the parsley.

When the cassoulet is near done cooking, remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs and take a potato masher (or large spoon) and mash some of the beans directly in the pot to thicken the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the cassoulet into bowls, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, and serve.


janet said...

That looks like great cold weather comfort food. I'd like a big dish right now!

Beatrice said...

I really admire people who cook during the week. I am so hungry by the time I get home from work that I just don't have the patience! So I wind up cooking two big meals on the weekend, and eating them all week.

DAVID said...

Beatrice, I've done the same. Reminds me of a classmate of mine in law school who took the first Saturday and Sunday of each month and prepared her meals in advance for the entire month. She would make lasagna and then freeze, like, 10 individual servings. Then she would make chili, and then freeze another 10 or so individual servings.

I, on the other hand, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the cafeteria - mediocre food that way overpriced and not very healthy.

nacy11 said...

Ideal Food for a Day!
I am nuts about food and always bake and cook every chance that I get! Every Sunday is the ideal day for baking and cooking such. I really made sure that it is nutritious and even mix herbs with it for a unique tang! Make sure to log on at Gourmandia for more unique recipes that can really leave you riveting!