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.
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.