Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Plant Based Cassoulet

Rancho Gordo is a specialty food shop that sells classically grown, gourmet heirloom beans.   I was blessed to receive their sampler pack, and was looking for something to make with their Classic Cassoulet Bean:  "A beautiful white runner bean developed by French farmers over generations to be the foundation of the classic cassoulet" with its original seed stock coming from Tarbes, France - as it says on the label.   Any soft white bean can be replaced in this recipe.

This was a hearty feel-good full meal.  Perfect for the cooler fall weather.

And if it weren't for some mushroom dislikers in my family, I would have added lots of fungi to this dish, which will definitely be added to the leftovers!    The heartiness of the 'shrooms would give it a bite and texture which it needs after all the meat, dairy and fat has been removed.  I loved the crumb topping with its garlicky parsley flavor.

I served it with roasted Japanese yams.

Plant Based Cassoulet

3 medium leeks
4 medium carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1-2 cups of your favorite mushrooms, sliced (optional)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 cups cooked Cassoulet Beans or any cooked white bean (or 2 - 3 small cans)
2-3 cups vegetable broth (use more of less for extra moisture in cooking)

1)  Slice leeks lengthwise and chop - then place in a bowl filled with cold water, agitating the leeks until all the soil drops to the bottom of the bowl.

2)  Heat large wide pot over medium heat with an optional spray of olive oil.  Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of vegetable broth.

3)  Scoop the leeks out of the water with your hands and place into the pot.    Add the remaining vegetables, herbs and spices except for the beans.   Cook for about 15 minutes or until all the vegetables have softened.

4)  While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the breadcrumb topping (below).

5)  After you have prepared the crumb topping, add the beans and remaining broth to the pot and cover the pot, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

6)  Discard the bay leaf and then either mash some of the beans with a potato masher or use a hand immersion blender blending about 1/4 of the vegetables and beans to give a creamy texture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover with the breadcrumbs prior to serving.

Breadcrumb topping

4 cups breadcrumbs (I used a mixture of bread I had in the pantry with panko crumbs and chopped it in my high speed blender)
1/3 cup vegetable broth (I scooped this right out of the cooking pot)
1 Tbs garlic, crushed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Set oven to 400.  Stir breadcrumbs, broth and garlic together in a large bowl and spread out on a baking sheet.   Salt & pepper to taste and spray the top with olive oil (optional).   Bake for 10 minutes on top rack, and then stir the crumbs and return to the top rack to bake another 10 minutes, or until all the crumbs have browned evenly.

Remove from oven, stir in parsley and cool while the cassoulet is cooking.

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