Try this Hearty Vegetarian Cassoulet for Meatless Monday
Since I stopped eating meat in 1978, vegetarian cuisine has continuously become more creative and exciting. Turning traditional meat-laden recipes into meat-free meals is part of the fun of vegetarian cooking. As a person who was never a fan of meat, I find vegetarian versions of traditional meaty recipes to feel fresh and complex compared to their heavier counterparts. Without the more assertive flavor of meat, all the other ingredients get a chance to shine.
Because I was never enamored of meat, I don’t feel a need to use products that mimic meat. However, I do appreciate that so-called meat substitutes such as tofu and tempeh can be quite tasty and can up the protein quotient in meatless cooking.
Cassoulet comes from France, and is named after the dish in which all the ingredients are slow-cooked. Originally developed as country fare, cassoulet has found elevated status in American restaurants in recent years, with some versions featuring fish and seafood, along with meat-free versions such as this one. The one ingredient that seems to span all variations of cassoulet is white beans. I love cannellini beans, but great northern beans or navy beans are great too. This hearty cassoulet comes from some Vegetarian Times recipe cards I purchased years ago.
I make this recipe—with variations—at least once during the colder months. The recipe calls for seitan in addition to tempeh. Of course, if you are sensitive to gluten, you can simply omit the seitan or substitute sautéed tofu. Or you can add more veggies. Halved, sautéed Brussels sprouts are great in this recipe.
Part of the appeal of a traditional cassoulet is its slow-cooked depth. This recipe isn’t quick, but it makes at least two meals for 3-4 people, especially if you add a crunchy green salad and some crusty bread.
- 1 cup dried navy, great northern or cannellini beans, soaked overnight
- 5 cups water, divided
- Water to cover
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, or pinch dried thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or pinch dried rosemary
- 8 oz. seitan, cut into 1-inch chunks (or substitute cubed tofu or halved Brussels sprouts)
- 2 t oil, divided
- 8 oz. tempeh, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 T prepared mustard
- 1 to 2 T white or yellow miso
- 1/2 t each dried sage, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary
- 1/2 t white pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 small rutabaga, peeled and chopped
- (You can substitute a turnip for either the parsnip or rutabaga.)
- 1 t olive oil
- pinch salt
- optional garnishes: sliced green onion, chopped parsley
Drain and rinse the beans after soaking. Place in a 2-quart saucepan with enough water to cover by one inch. Add bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer an hour or until beans are soft. Drain beans and reserve the liquid.
While beans are cooking, sauté seitan in 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently Remove and drain on paper towels. Add tempeh and oil to the same sauté pan and cook until browned, turning several times to brown the sides.
Combine 2 cups water, miso, mustard, herbs and white pepper in a large saucepan Add seitan and tempeh. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Sauté onions, garlic, carrots, parsnip and rutabaga in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in salt and sauté for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°. Combine all the ingredients (except the reserved bean liquid) in a large, ovenproof casserole or gratin dish. Cover and bake for an hour. You can reheat this dish for up to an hour at 325°. Stir before serving. If the cassoulet seems dry, add some of the reserved bean liquid. Garnish with sliced green onions and chopped parsley.
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