This week, our host, Keely Marie chose “Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables”. Like most of Bittman’s recipes, this one is flexible around which ingredients to use. He recommends beans and some type of meat (duck, chicken, Italian sausage) and a ton of vegetables (which I love!).
I decided to use a lot more beans than Bittman calls for and went with three varieties of white beans: navy beans, white kidney beans and baby lima beans. These beans are similar in color, though each one has a slightly different texture and size when cooked. That diversity allows for the use of less meat, without sacrificing taste, texture and flavor.
This recipe is also categorized as a a Sunday Supper because it requires soaking the beans overnight (aka some advance planning) and cooks for a couple of hours on the stove top. Not a weeknight dinner, unless it’s the leftovers.
To see what all the other Food Matters Project members created this week, head over here!
- If this is your first time cooking with leeks, read this quick article on how to properly clean them. This is important because they are dirty in places you just don’t expect!
- I bought the dried beans in the bulk section. Almost ANY dried white beans will work but try to get some Baby Lima Beans (or Lima Beans or Butter Beans) if you can because they literally melt into the sauce and give it it’s rich and creamy texture! I used about 6 ounces Baby Lima’s, 3 ounces Navy and 3 ounces White Kidney.
- 2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 12 ounces Italian Chicken Sausage (I used Spicy), sliced diagonally
- 12 ounces dried white beans (see Notes Section)
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic
- 2 leeks, trimmed, well cleaned and thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 celery ribs, sliced into ½” pieces
- 1 small head cabbage, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (3 cups)
- 2 cups reserved bean cooking liquid
- Rinse beans and pick out any damaged beans or stones. Place on a large bowl or pot and cover with at least 2 to 3″ of water. Let soak overnight.
- Drain beans and set aside.
- Slice chicken sausage diagonally.
- *MOVE ON TO STEP 1 and 2 OF COOKING AND GET BEANS STARTED THEN COME BACK AND FINISH PREP WORK*
- Smash and mince garlic. Trim leeks, rinse well and thinly slice. Peel carrots and slice into 1″ pieces. Cut celery into ½” pieces. Finally, cut cabbage into 1″ chunks (remove hard core).
- Measure dried thyme and pull out 2 bay leaves. Chop fresh parsley and measure ¼ cup.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in large soup pot or dutch oven. Add sausage and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so sausage browns on all sides.
- Add soaked beans, 8 cups water and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower light to a bubbling simmer and cook 1 to 1.5 hours until beans are just soft. (Depends on bean freshness – took me 1 hr, 15 min)
- Drain beans, reserving bean liquid for later.
- Place empty pot back on stove and turn heat to medium high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Once hot, add garlic, leeks, carrot, celery, cabbage, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook 5 to 7 minutes, until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.
- Add dried thyme, chopped parsley, bay leaves, tomatoes and 2 cups of the reserved bean liquid. Bring to a boil, cover and lower light to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
- You should have approximately 2 cups of leftover bean liquid. Taste this – isn’t it delicious? Put it in a container (make sure to leave behind the gritty paste that settled to the bottom) and use throughout the week every time you need a splash of stock! Or freeze it for a soup. Yum!
- Adjust seasonings if needed and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. I added an additional teaspoon of kosher salt and some more freshly ground black pepper.
- Excellent served with a side salad and fresh parsley on top. Enjoy!