Cornucopia Cassoulet

Cornucopia Cassoulet

Cornucopia Cassoulet


Surprise! That’s what I feel I get each week participating in The Food Matter’s Project. A group member chooses a recipe from The Food Matter’s Cookbook by Mark Bittman, and all of the group members make the recipe that week. I’m surprised every time. I’m learning that Mark Bittman really is more than a famous food critic for the New York Times; he’s a good cook. Sometimes his recipes sound strange, like combing pasta with Brussels sprouts, figs, and blue cheese; or, hummus served hot, but they are unexpectedly tasty. This week’s host Keely Marie chose the recipe “Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables” (p. 392). But, unlike some of the other recipes it didn’t sound strange, in fact it sounded pretty good. The surprise this time though was that it was not only delicious, it was superb! I did make some adjustments to the recipe, like using beans from scratch—and more of them, more leeks, less tomatoes, and less meat, but I credit Bittman for coming up with such a compendium of delicious flavors. This is why I call the dish Cornucopia Cassoulet. I’m sure you’ll love this dish, and don’t worry if you can’t finish it all. You can store them in the refrigerator for several days; or you could even freeze them. Enjoy!

You may want to check the schedule for upcoming recipes and cook along with us.

Servings: 10

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours

Additional Time: 8 to 12 hours to presoak the beans


2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces sausage (I used Aidells Cajun Style Andouille)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 leeks, white part only, well rinsed

2 carrots, sliced into ¼-inch coins

3 celery stalks, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 zucchini, sliced into ½ inch coins

1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste

3 medium-large tomatoes, chopped and with the juice (about 2-1/2 cups)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

12 ounces dry navy beans, or great northern; or, 5 cups canned beans

Cooking liquid as needed: stock, dry white wine, bean cooking liquid, or water


1. Prep (Here’s a good trick for getting quick and evenly chopped leeks.) After you have rinsed the white of the leeks well, slice them in half lengthwise without cutting through the ends. Give the leek stalks a quarter turn, and then slice it again along the length. Rinse them again under the faucet to remove all the dirt. Place on of the leeks horizontally on the cutting board in front of you. Make 1/3-inch slices until you reach the end of the leek. You should now have one evenly chopped leek. Discard the root end, and repeat with the other 2 leeks.

2. Cooking with a stockpot (about 1-1/2 to 2 hours) Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot. Add the sausage and begin to brown it; add the leeks and the garlic, and stir until they are tender. Add the pre-soaked beans and the bay leaves, and enough liquid to cover 2 inches above the line of the beans. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed. When the beans are beginning to become tender, add the remaining ingredients: carrots, celery, zucchini, parsley, thyme, salt and black pepper, and more liquid as needed. Cook until all the beans and vegetables are tender. Season the beans with the salt and pepper.


2. Cooking with a Pressure cooker (about 1 hour and 5 minutes) Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot. Add the sausage and begin to brown it, and then add the leeks and the garlic and stir until they are tender. Add the pre-soaked beans and the bay leaves, and enough liquid to cover 2 inches above the line of the beans.  Cover with the lid and pressure cook according to manufacturer’s directions. After the pressure cooker has reached the top pressure and it begins to hiss, lower the flame on the stove to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes. After this time, cool the pressure cooker under cold water, and then remove the lid. Add the remaining ingredients: carrots, celery, zucchini, parsley, thyme, salt and black pepper, and more liquid as needed. Cook until all the beans and vegetables are tender. Season the beans with the salt and black pepper.


This recipe is also posted at Full Plate Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, and the Pennywise Platter


White Bean Dip – 50 Women Game Changers – Donna Hay #31

White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip


We are now at week #31 profiling the “50 Women Game  Changers” outlined on Gourmet Online. Mary Berger at One Perfect Bite and we fellow bloggers are having a great time learning about these dynamic women chefs, writers, and entrepreneurs. Welcome back.

At 41, Donna Hay is a wife, and a mother of three children. Some would describe her as Australia’s counterpart to Martha Stewart. Donna became interested in cooking at a young age, and by the age of 14 she took over the reign of the kitchen and began cooking meals for the family. At 19, she became food editor at Marie Claire Magazine, where she worked for five years. Not long after that, she convinced Rupert Murdock to finance the Donna Hay Magazine, in exchange she would post her column in his group’s magazine. John Hartigan, her publisher and boss, calls her “one tough cookie.” Like Marta Stewart, she has made business out of her name. She has a television show, a multitude of books she’s written, a Donna Hay kitchen product line, and her magazine reaches 82 countries, and is the top-selling international food magazine in the US, and it has over 384,000 Australian subscribers. You have to be a “one tough cookie” to get that far.

The white bean dip recipe below is a modification of Donna Hay’s recipe. I added lemon juice and smoked Spanish paprika sprinkled over the top of the dip. I also splashed it with a bit of olive oil. I used navy beans instead of canned cannellini beans, feeling that home cooked beans as a healthy choice, and cannellini beans are more difficult to find. It was also necessary to add about 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid so the dip would be creamier and less stiff; water can be used as well.


Servings: 4 to 6

Yield: 2-1/4 cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes


1 – 14 ounce can of white navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro), cilantro

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

sea salt and cracked black pepper

1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Cilantro leaves for garnishing


1)  Place all the ingredients in a small food processor and process until smooth. Serve with bread or veggies. Serves 2.

Add whatever herbs or spices you like to create variations of the recipe.

*TIP- You can pre-cook beans and freeze them to have on hand. Thaw time is about 3 hours.

Check out what the other bloggers have come up with for this week. It all sounds so yummy!

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Joanne – Eats Well With Others, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – Girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living,  Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen –Bake Away with Me  Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts, Kathleen – Gonna Want Seconds,   Linda A – There and Back Again  Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things,  Claudia –Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce –More Time at the Table

Recipe: Wicked Vegan White Beans


Wicked Vegan White Beans

Wicked Vegan White Beans


Over the weekend we had some friends come over to eat lunch with us, so I made a big pot of wicked vegan white beans. Usually, I add one turkey or chicken sausage to add flavor to the beans, but this time I made vegan beans, and the consensus was that they tasted pretty wicked (good!).


White Beans and Friends

White Beans and Friends

The navy bean is a small creamy white bean that gets its name because they were used as a staple food by the American Navy at the turn of the 20th century. After I saw the nutrition chart at, I could understand why navy beans were chosen as a staple. Just one cup provides you with 64% daily folate needs, and 51% manganese needs; both of these help lower your risk of heart attack.  Also, according to, white beans give you energy while stabilizing your blood sugar levels, and they are a good source of soluble fiber and protein. Hmm…just writing this makes me think I should put on another pot. Keep in mind that legumes are an incomplete protein, so they should be eaten in the company of brown rice, nuts, or whole wheat bread.

Kids like white beans

Kids like white beans


I learned to love white beans in Spain, where my stepmother makes them often in her pressure cooker. The Spanish variety is close in flavor to the navy bean, though it is a bit larger and creamier. I know that some people don’t like to eat beans because they worry they might get gas. If you have this concern try blending them make a puree to avoid that problem. You don’t want to miss out on all the benefits beans these beans offer. Go ahead and give them a try! (Please keep in mind that the beans must be pre-soaked overnight before cooking.)

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes  (for pressure cooker)

Servings: 10 or more


1 1/4 pounds navy white beans, soaked in water overnight

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

5 carrots, peeled and sliced to 1¼-inch thickness

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½  teaspoons sea salt

1 ¼  teaspoons spicy Spanish paprika,

1 large bay leaf

¾ pound fresh spinach, stalks removed and discarded

Note about soaking beans: for best results, use beans that you know are not old. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with enough water so there are at least 4 inches of water over the level of the beans.  Soak beans overnight so they have a good 20 to 24 hours in water.  You might also add a small pinch of baking soda to act as a tenderizer.

Cooking Beans: You can cook the beans in one on three ways,

1.) Pressure cooker – Cooking time is 25 to 30 minutes on medium-low

2.) Crock pot – 6 hours

3.) Stove top – place in an 8-quart stockpot and cook until tender—approximately

1-1/2 hours.

My personal preference is the pressure cooker as the cooking time is reduced by an hour compared to the stove top method.


1)  Sauté the garlic in the olive oil for one to two minutes without letting it burn. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.

2)  Add the paprika and let it cook with the onions for a minute.

3)  Ad the chopped tomatoes and cook 2 minutes.

4)  Drain the white beans and rinse them well. Add the beans to the onions and then add the add the carrots, and the bay leaf and mix them in well. Cover with enough water to be about 1½ inch over the level of the beans.

4)  Cook the beans according using one of the above methods: pressure cooker, crock pot, or stove top.

5)  When the beans are cooked and they are tender, add the salt and stir well, and then add the spinach and stir just until they are wilted; 1 to 2 minutes.




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Other posts you may like: Why Use a Pressure Cooker, or Chickpeas with Sausage

This recipe is also posted at Slightly Indulgent TuesdaysSimple lives Thursdays, and Hearth and Soul
White Beans on Foodista