November 16, 2011

Recipe: Vegetarian Cassoulet (Lentil Variation)

Cassoulet -- my test run for Thanksgiving.  The white beans I had on hand were awful -- so I substituted lentils.  

For Thanksgiving, we'll be making dinner for the family (six people, two are vegetarians).  While there will be a few turkey pieces for people who "want turkey," I'm providing the main (meat-free!) dish  -- a cassoulet.   This recipe is a lot of "bang for the buck" -- easy to prep, quick to make, and extremely delicious!   It is flavorful without being spicy -- pleasing to all.

I made this at last year's Thanksgiving as well, but to be sure I know what I'm doing in front of an audience, I cooked up a test batch the other night.  Unfortunately, the canned white beans I bought (Goya small white beans) were horrible!  I tasted them before adding to the cassoulet, just because I tend to sample everything while I'm cooking.  Good thing.  I cooked up a few cups of lentils while the vegetables continued to simmer, adding two cooked cups to the the cassoulet (I saved the rest for other meals -- my strategy for cooking overall is to make extra here and there for my own homemade "frozen meals" for lunch.  A handful of lentils, a handful of frozen spinach, some leftover grain -- voila.) 

The lentils were perfect for this dish, but I will use the white beans for the holiday version.

My recipe is a variation of an online version originally published in Gourmet.  It's made the rounds online and seems to be popular with other bloggers -- here is Mission Delectable's lovely photo essay and result!  I omit a few ingredients and abandoned the topping altogether. 


3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (I used 3 T)
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
3 (19-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked lentils)
1 quart water
Salt and pepper to taste (I omit these)

1.  Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, and salt/pepper to taste in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. 
3. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.  Simmering is the key to getting all the flavors to merge in perfection!
4. Serve with bread.


Cleary, I am infatuated with cassoulets, the word cassoulet, and the concept of a cassoulet .
Here are other recipes I'd like to try (with or without modification) that I've found around the web:

From the Food NetworkRoot Vegetable Cassoulet

From Not Eating Out In New York: Incredible Vegetable Cassoulet

From Eden Foods: White Bean Cassoulet


  1. Thanks for the recipe -- I've been thinking of making cassoulet! But no crumbs? They're essential! I have some whole wheat panko crumbs in my pantry that I'll try using as a shortcut. :-)

  2. I didn't do the panko for Thanksgiving -- so many other "carb" dishes on hand -- but you are right, I should give a garlic confit/panko topping a try sometime!