Recipe: Vegetarian Cassoulet


It’s a beautiful springy day in Davis today—65, sunny, fresh breeze. It makes me feel like I’m in the French countryside so I pulled out my heavy French pot and adapted this classic French meat and bean stew for vegetarians and vegans. Traditionally, cassoulet has bacon and sausage, so you could use faux meats, if you like. I opted to simply omit them. This recipe is high in fiber and protein, and low in fat—with zero cholesterol. A garlicky breadcrumb topping adds spice and crunch to this hearty meal.

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Servings: 8
Time: 30 minutes active; about 75 minutes total

For Cassoulet:
3 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into ½ inch pieces, white and pale green parts only
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
4 15 ounce cans of cannellini, white kidney or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
1 quart vegetable stock

For Garlicky Bread crumbs:
4 cups coarse bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Wash leeks thoroughly by putting them in a colander nested in a bowl of water. The dirt will drain to the bottom of the bowl and you can simply lift the leeks out to drain.

2. Heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot. Add leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf and cumin and cook until softened, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in beans, tomatoes and stock and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make bread crumb topping. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix bread crumbs, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Spread onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spray bread crumbs with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Cool crumbs.

5. Mash some of the beans in the pot with a potato masher to thicken broth. Serve hot and sprinkle with garlicy bread crumbs.

Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food and is a vegetarian—she doesn’t believe these things are mutually exclusive. A vegetarian for the past nine years, Capps created as a way to share her passion for eating, drinking and cooking—and to make vegetarianism more accessible. The blog transforms meat dishes into vegetarian or improves vegetarian recipes and puts the results up in a weekly post called the Sunday Serving on the blog and at the Facebook Group Vegetarianized. Capps also is a food writer, teaches cooking classes in Davis and is an amateur caterer. Upcoming cooking classes and recent food articles are found on the blog home page.