Vegetarian Cassoulet Recipe
During our recent trip to Paris, I noticed "cassoulet maison" being the recurring specialty dish appearing on many brasserie menus. Cassoulet is a traditional French casserole dish originating in the South of France. The dish consists of several layers meat and cannellini beans. My husband Lulu being a vegetarian and I wanted him to be able to enjoy the wonderful flavors of cassoulet. I made a meat-less equivalent, which makes a perfect complete meal for vegetarians thanks to the hearty white beans. I don't think I would make this dish often because it's quite labor intensive, but Lulu liked this comfort food so much that I might just make the effort. I'm sure he'll appreciate this dish even more when I make it.
For a contrast in texture, I served the vegetarian cassoulet as a layered nacho bean dish, using blue corn tortilla chips. Lulu loved it and even commented that "vegetarian cassoulet is so flavorful, I don't understand why one would ruin it by adding meat!" Isn't my husband funny?
Yields: 6 servings1 (10-ounce) package blue corn tortilla chips
1 (24-ounce) package dried cannellini beans (haricots cocos)
¼ cup olive oil
1 head garlic
2 yellow onions
10 ounces tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1-½ teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 (12-ounce) package soyrizo (click on the link for the recipe)
3 tablespoons soy bacon bits
½ pound baby carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons emmental cheese (optional), shredded
The day before...
In a bowl wash the cannellini beans thoroughly. Pick out and discard any badly-shaped beans, then soak them overnight.
The following day...
Drain as much liquid as possible from the beans. Set aside.
Chop one and a half onions.
In a pot, heat the olive oil. Cook the chopped onions for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pot, transfer to a platter. Set aside.
When the oil is hot again, add the soyrizo. Separate into small lumps using a spoon. Cook until each piece is nicely browned. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
In the same pot, add the cloves of garlic, remaining clove-studded half onion, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, celery and carrots. Cook for about 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add the beans and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer for about 2 hours. Add 1-½ teaspoons of salt half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the beans and they'll be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Check the liquid and add ¼ cup to ½ cup of warm water if necessary.
Once the water evaporates, check the softness of the beans (add more water and cook a bit longer if not fully cooked). Depending on how thick you like the juice, you can blend a few beans. Add 2 tablespoons of soy bacon bits, cooked chopped onions and tomatoes into the beans. Adjust seasoning and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low-heat. Check the seasoning. Season with more salt if necessary and black pepper. Add the soyrizo. Remove and discard the sprigs of oregano, thyme and the bay leaf (if possible).
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Spread the tortilla chips onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place the chips in the oven for 5 minutes. Open the oven, top with the cannellini beans. Sprinkle with emmental cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
The vegetarian chorizo (click on the link for the soyrizo recipe) has a similar texture to ground beef. The spices really add an extra dimension of flavor to this dish that plain, bland tofu cannot.
For a vegan version, just omit the cheese at the end.
Published By: on January 12, 2011.