I really enjoy this time of year, when the weather gets cool enough for oven cooking, but beautiful summer veg is still abundant and affordable. This rosemary and white bean French-style cassoulet is a dish I’ve been making on repeat since February. Part stew, part baked beans, this cassoulet is so flavour packed and creamy, it really is a favourite of mine.
French cuisine has always been something I’ve shied away from in my kitchen, mainly due to my unfair preconceptions about it being meat and dairy heavy (but really, popular dishes from most cuisines are!). That said, I have been experimenting and nerdily reading up about the nuances of vegetables, and have discovered that a vegetarian cassoulet can be perfectly rich, flavourful and delicious, so long as you have plenty of fat and aromatics. My other trick here is to bake the cassoulet uncovered, which makes the white beans and vegetables melt-in-your-mouth tender, and intensifies the flavours. The baking makes the total recipe time a little daunting looking, but just remember that most of it is hands off and the results are worth it!
One of the fundamentals of French cooking is the mirepoix, which you’ll see in this recipe. Mirepoix is the vegetable trifecta of onion, celery and carrot, which is the base for many stocks and sauces. The ratio is two parts onion to one parts each of celery and carrot, which is finely diced and then cooked nice and slow over a gentle heat – with the intention of bringing out their sweetness, rather than browning.
Almost every cuisine has its own vegetable base like mirepoix: Cajun cooking has the Holy Trinity (onion, celery, green capsicum), Spain has Sofrito (onion, garlic, tomato), and Germany has Suppengrün (carrot, celeriac, leek). Whilst the vegetables practically dissolve into the sauce, their presence is so important to the flavour of the resulting dish. Learning about different cuisine’s vegetables bases brings you a step closer to getting authentic flavours in your cooking, even if you’re skipping the meat and dairy! See this great Serious Eats article for more on mirepoix.
On a personal note: you may have noticed a lack of posts from me recently. I have been suffering from physical and emotional exhaustion since the beginning of the year, which has been making any additional activities outside of my day job quite difficult. I wasn’t coping with working all week and then spending all of my weekends blogging – so something had to give. Unfortunately, it’s always your creative interest that suffers when you are experiencing burn out. It’s true that having a project like my blog makes my physically demanding day job tolerable, but spending every weekend blogging means I never really get that down time one should have. Blogging is enjoyable, but it’s still work.
Last month I spent a couple of weeks recouperating at my folk’s house on the Sunshine Coast and am feeling heaps better both emotionally and physically, but I have decided that I won’t be posting weekly recipes from here on in. I believe I’ll be happier with the quality of my recipes if I only post one or two times a month, and I’ll have more time to test recipes for you to make sure you love them as much as I do. Better quality, less often is always better in my book.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this cassoulet! Please let me know what you think in the comments below or via social media. x Liberty
Rosemary and White Bean Cassoulet
Use whatever cooked whitebeans you have on hand, such as flageolet, butter bean, navy or cannellini – good quality tinned beans are fine. Don’t be put off by the long cooking time, most of it is hands-off!
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 70 min
Rosemary and White Bean Cassoulet
80ml | 4 tbls olive oil
160g | 1 medium onion, diced
80g | 1 small carrot diced
80g | 1 stalk celery, diced
120g | 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1.5 tbls fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g | 2 tomatoes, quartered
500ml vegetable stock (I use a stock cube)
500g | 3 cups | 2 tins of cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
Set your oven to 180C.
In a 2L saucepan (oven-proof, if possible) over a low-medium heat, cook the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil with a few good pinches of salt, stirring regularly for 10 min. Add the zucchini and continue cooking for another 5 min. Finally, add the rosemary, thyme and garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes till fragrant and all the vegetables are soft and sweet.
Turn up the heat to high and add the tomatoes, stock and white beans. Bring it to a boil and then move it to your oven (first transfer the beans to an oven-proof dish, if your saucepan is not). Bake uncovered for 45-50 min, till the stock has reduced and the beans are crisping on top.
Taste for seasoning and salt appropriately, if needed (this will depend on your stock). Serve with crusty bread, lemony greens, and/or roasted potatoes, with a few gratings of cheese, if you like.
Keeps covered and refrigerated for up to five days. Freezes well.