A New Classic: Vegetarian Cassoulet

We all know the class French dish, cassoulet, with pork, chicken, and sausage. It is perfect on a winter’s evening for dinner. But what if you aren’t eating meat? A vegetarian cassoulet is a delicious non-meat alternative to this rich traditional version. While is without meat, it doesn’t lack flavor and fills you up. And what makes this dish even better than the original? It is simple to make and can be on the table in under an hour. The dish is respectable enough to serve on Sunday and to company. Even my meat loving guys enjoy this dish not missing the meat.

Simple Ingredient for Big Flavor

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Simple ingredients you may have in your fridge and pantry. It is leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, ground clove, and canned cannelloni beans. I like to use fresh herbs even in winter, but you can substitute dried herbs. I bring my herbs inside keeping them in my mud room so I have fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, and oregano to use in my cooking. I was fortunate when I made this vegetarian cassoulet last I had fresh leeks from my garden. They were little ones, but so good. I took pride in using them in my dish. The cassoulet has a garlic breadcrumb topping. Depending if I have stale homemade bread, I will make my own or I use store bought bread crumbs.

This really is a meaty dish. You can serve it with a salad and a baguette.

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Ingredients

  • - 3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • - 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
  • - 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
  • - 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • - 1/4 cup olive oil
  • - 4 thyme sprigs
  • - 2 parsley sprigs
  • - 1 bay leaf
  • -1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • - 3 cans cannellini rinsed and drained
  • - 1 quart water
  • For garlic crumbs
  • - 4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • - 1/3 cup olive oil
  • - 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • - 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preparation

  • 1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • 2. Wash well and pat dry. Salad spinner is helpful.
  • 3. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes.
  • 4. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
  • 5. Make garlic crumbs while cassoulet simmers.
  • 6. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  • 7. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
  • 8. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • 9. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
  • 10. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf.
  • 11. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
  • 12. Season with salt and pepper.
  • 13. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.
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