M. and I love French food. But, being vegetarian, there's a limit to how much I can enjoy the traditionally meat-heavy cuisine. Desserts are no problem, but usually the stews and main dishes involve an animal prepared in some shape or form. This recipe in the current issue of Gourmet caught my eye, and was put on the menu immediately.
The dish was pretty simple to prepare, however I got a late start which meant dinner ended up on the table later then I'd expected. Made with dried beans (prepared the night before), it came together in about an hour and a half (chopping an cooking time included). The bread crumbs were delicious... definitely a key element to the dish. Unfortunately, I was unusually heavy handed with the salt which did affect our enjoyment of the dish somewhat. And, I can't claim that this picture is headed to any food photography hall of fame any time soon. But, this is certainly a dish I will repeat in the future for its speed, homeyness and warm winter comfort.
Gourmet March 2008
Active time 30 minutes, start to finish 1 hr 15 minutes
A leek, carrot and celery mirepoix, cooked until tender with rich white beans, gets a crisp, crunchy texture and delightfully rustic flavor from a garlicky bread-crumb topping flecked with parsley.
3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into one inch pieces
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 turkish bay leaf
1/4 tsp cloves
3 19 oz cans of cannellini or Great Northern beans rinsed and drained
1 quart of water
For garlic crumbs
4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into half inch pieces, then wash well and pat dry
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 heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
Make Garlic crumbs while Cassoulet Simmers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the middle.
Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread in a baking pan, and toast in oven stirring once halfway through until crisp and golden, 12-15 minutes.
Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.