Cassoulet My Way

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Before Breadcrumbs

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After Breadcrumbs; before consuming (duh)

First of all, I apologize for the uber-cheesy rhyming title. Second, holy crap, work is busy!!! Wow-I know my job is not one of those “I never had anything to do” type of jobs and I’m always got lots on my plate. But I never knew my job could be as crazy as it has been lately!! Man-oh-man. And our email was down all today and might be down tomorrow. Yikes!! Hopefully all this will ease up soooooooon. Or I might melt. Probably not, but maybe. Ok-enough random shit!

I first had cassoulet when my mom made me a vegetarian version about 2 years ago (I think. My amazing memory is failing me. 😦 ) Cassoulet is a traditional French stew with lots of white beans and pork and duck and other stuff I don’t eat, and all topped with breadcrumbs. My mom’s version was really really good, but I remember standing in the kitchen scraping the breadcrumbs off the top while yelling at my mom that I hate breadcrumbs on things. Sorry Mom-I was going through a moody time (waaay-post adolescent moodiness-does that exist?), and should have appreciated all the time and energy you put into making something just for me! Cause you know no one else in the house was going to eat it. Sorry!! Anyway, it was really rich and tasty and warm and perfect. The beans were so good along with the bits of tomato and leeks. Yum…Mom-do you have that recipe?? However, close to when I ate all that deliciousness, I totally forgot all about cassoulet.

The next time I was it was when I was watching the Cleveland episode of No Reservations on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain’s show. I know he’s not a popular guy around the vegetarian and vegan community (he once called Vegans the Hezbollah-like splinter of vegetarians…I disagree), but I enjoy his show! I’m going to go hide in a corner now and hang my head in shame. But, I can still watch while disagreeing with a lot he says…right? RIGHT??? Well, anyway…he did a show back in the Fall or Winter (really not sure…stupid memory) on Cleveland that I just loved. He painted Cleveland in a very true-to-self way and very honest. He showed that Cleveland is an industrial town that is not really thriving and has had better times, but it is still a charming city with lots of great people and great culture. If you ever catch it on TV-please watch it. I’ve never really seen a portrait of my city so real.

Anyway, part of the episode was Bourdain with his buddy Michael Ruhlman (a fellow Cleveland Heights-er and alum of my Dad’s school) making a cassoulet in Ruhlman’s kitchen. This cassoulet is a bit different than the one my mom made-it is FILLED with pork and sausage and duck and other stuff I don’t eat. I would not have taken a bite of that if you paid me, but I have to admit, it looked darn good. Crusty and full of healthy beans, it was a good-looking dish. And re-ignited my interest in cassoulet, without the animal products, of course.

And then…the good people over at Gourmet magazine smiled on me. Literally. They published a recipe for vegetarian cassoulet. It’s like the read my mind!!! I needed this recipe. I needed to make it. And although I could have just gotten the recipe online, I stole it. Shhhhh. I was at Grand Central last month and was looking through magazines at the magazine store waiting for my train as I often do, and picked up Gourmet. I stumbled upon the recipe and got so excited! It was beautiful and knew I had to make it asap. But, I also knew I was going to forget about it and didn’t want to buy the magazine. (I’m cheap-remember?) So, I very quietly tore out the recipe. Friends-don’t hate me! Don’t think I’m a horrible person!! I never ever do this…I don’t know what came over me! Moving on from my moral slip-up.

So, I had the recipe but didn’t get around to making the recipe till this past Sunday. I adjusted it a bit, made it a little smaller (I didn’t need 8 servings!) and got it underway. The different thing about this particular cassoulet recipe is that it isn’t baked, which makes it less time consuming. And it’s good. Darn good. Worth the moral slip-up good. The cloves gave it a really unique flavor and the entire thing thickened up really nicely. Warm and comforting on probably the last weekend I can make warming food (almost time for summer food!). It doesn’t take a long time and is quite a winner. Lots of beans and lots of leeks and lots of general good-ness. And don’t even think about leaving off the breadcrumbs!!! Mom-I was wrong. The breadcrumbs make the dish. Do you forgive me?

Vegetarian Cassoulet (adapted from Gourmet Mag.)

3 leeks-white and pale green parts, sliced in half into 1/2 inch pieces. WELL WASHED.
3 carrots, 1 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, 1 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
lots of fresh thyme
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf.
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
salt & pepper
1 LARGE can of cannolini beans, rinsed
a little less than a quart of water or veggie broth (I used broth)
1.5 cups breadcrumbs
more olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 chopped parsley

Saute the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, cloves and salt & pepper (to taste) in olive oil in a large dutch oven. Do this over medium-low heat so you don’t burn it or cook it too fast for about 15 minutes until leeks are totally cooked but carrots are still slightly crispy. Add the beans and water/broth and simmer for about 30 minutes or until it thickens. If it doesn’t thicken, mash some beans with a potato masher.

While the stew is cooking, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil thoroughly, spread on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. But, watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. I almost burned mine. Once removed from the oven, transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and stir on chopped parsley.

When everything is done, top each individual serving with about 1-2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs. Consume and think about the guilt you have about stealing a recipe from a magazine at Grand Central Station.

15 Responses to “Cassoulet My Way”


  1. 1 Nick April 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Never had a cassoulet, but I’ll have to try it someday. I’ll probably add some pork and turkey, but keep close to this excellent looking recipe. Although with breadcrumbs on top, you can never go wrong.

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  2. 2 lindzakins921 April 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I never heard of this before but after reading your ingredients it reminds me of a vegetable soup plus the wonderful-ness of the breadcrumbs on top – ahhhh, yum!

    Believe me, I was the same way w/ my mom when I was young haha… I think all kids are… I’m sure she understands😉

  3. 3 Romina April 15, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    I haven’t had cassoulet, I haven’t even heard of it until a few months ago, but it looks delicious!!

  4. 4 glidingcalm April 15, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    that looks pretty bomb diggity

  5. 5 VeggieGirl April 15, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    I LOVE your vegetarian version of the classic cassoulet dish – yum!!

    Please do not get me started on Anthony Bourdain – the things that he has said about vegans are appalling, sickening, and uncalled for. I refuse to watch his programs; especially since he eats pig’s cheeks and other “delicacies.” ick!

  6. 6 chandra April 15, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    This looks/sounds SO good! How many servings does the recipe make?

  7. 7 Betsy April 15, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    VeggieGirl
    I know. He really makes me angry, but I like his show, which is hard. His Cleveland show was really really good though-nothing bad about vegans etc. He pisses me off tons though!!!

  8. 8 Betsy April 15, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Everyone
    here is an article about Cassoulet that kinda describes it:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1697005,00.html

    Chandra
    I got 3.5 servings. At least with my appetite!!!

  9. 9 Alice (in Veganland) April 16, 2008 at 2:44 am

    hahaha, you stole the recipe! Well, you are now giving it back to the world, so I guess it´s okay…

  10. 10 Cara April 16, 2008 at 8:49 am

    You make it sound so tasty! mmm

  11. 11 Kate April 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Betsy,
    I just stumbled on your blog, and I have a confession. I am a vegetarian and I love Anthony Bourdain. I think I’m comfortable enough with my decision to be vegetarian to laugh with him and his crotchety attitudes about things. It’s what he does and I’m almost proud to be at the other end of one of his rants:) Also, his restaurant has plenty of vegetarian options.

  12. 12 RhodeyGirl April 17, 2008 at 9:50 am

    eep! i would probably grumble if i was the one who bought that copy of the mag hahaha! but, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do for a good cassoulet!

    i will definitely be trying this on the next rainy weekend!

    thanks for all of your recipes and insights on running- i training for my first hm (may 4th- the Rhode Race in RI) and it helps to know that other people are experiencing similar things to me! so thanks, and btw you seriously inspire me to run faster/longer/harder!

  13. 13 joanna April 17, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Looks delicious. Love your blog!

  14. 14 arielle April 17, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Wouldn’t it be funny if the person who bought the magazine read this blog? Because you know, if they buy Gourmet magazine, they probably like reading about food, so maybe they also like reading food blogs.

    I think I may be reading too much into this. But it would be pretty cool. And also, they’d get to see the recipe after all. It’s win-win, really. You should have, like, scribbled your blog address inside the magazine. Next time.

  15. 15 Betsy April 17, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Kate
    Ok-I guess I feel less guilty now!!

    Rhodey
    My first half is they day before yours!!! it’s sooo soon…
    I’m going to start reading your blog cause, as you said, it’s great to hear about people going through similar experiences. It’s comforting, in a way.

    Ari
    Next time. definitely next time. Cause there will be a next time!


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