Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of the biggest culinary gaffes Chefly Husband and I ever made was mistaking peasant food for haute cuisine; we decided to make a cassoulet and followed a recipe to the letter, buying a hard-to-find and expensive kind of sausage, particular heirloom beans... the fussy list went on and on, and in the end we ended up with a bean casserole that cost $100.

Peasant food shouldn't cost $100. Peasant food shouldn't cost $10. Don't be a slave to a list that doesn't make sense... substitute, substitute, substitute, and use yer brain.

There are no $30 surprises in the list for Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cassoulet recipe. It's just simple, wonderful, tasty peasant food. As it should be.

Cassoulet is the name for the classic baked bean dish that is popular bistro fare throughout France. Although baking is the traditional method, you can gently simmer our vegetarian version for 20 minutes on the stove top instead.

1 teaspoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh or dried rosemary
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup diced pepperoni seitan
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (15-ounce can, drained)
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (15-ounce can, drained)
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, onions, thyme, bay leaves, marjoram, and rosemary and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the wine, cover, and simmer until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, potatoes, and tomatoes, cover, and simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the seitan, molasses, mustard, and both kinds of beans. Return to a simmer, stirring gently, just until the seitan and beans are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a casserole dish that has been prepared with cooking spray, cover, and bake for 45 minutes.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 30 minutes, if using already cooked or canned beans
Baking time: 45 minutes

Note: Almost any highly flavored seitan will work in the dish, but if only plain seitan is available, we suggest adding more herbs, garlic, and mustard to taste.
See? Simple! Easy as pie ... and you might want to think of putting this together to cook after you done your pies for Thanksgiving. The oven's already hot, why not cook up lunch for the next day? Also, if you have an unexpected vegetarian drop by your feast, you'll be well prepared.

This freezes well. It's a casserole, after all.

I recommend you make a buttery bread crumb topping and sprinkle it on before baking. The crunchy element is great with a cassoulet.

Have a big crusty loaf of bread on hand when you eat the beans. Sop up any liquid, and just enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment