Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe Time - White Bean "Cassoulet"

This is a great pantry friendly recipe for wintertime, and fabulous when the tomatoes are ripe in the summer time. It's both hearty and refreshing and you can make it in one pot. It's not a real cassoulet because the beans aren't cooked slowly with fat, but added at the end. I usually double the recipe to use up a pound of sausage since we don't eat sausage that often, and because it tastes even better the next day.

White Bean "Cassoulet"

½ pound bulk sausage, Italian sausage links, chicken sausage, ground pork, ground turkey or tofu crumbles (if you are using a ground meat/tofu, season it with a bit of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and/or sage or 3/4 teaspoon mixed dried herbs, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (wash and dry before chopping)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-sodium added diced tomatoes including juice
2 (19-ounce) cans white beans such as cannellini, navy, or Great Northern, drained and rinsed. (or about four cups of homemade cooked white beans)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium skillet brown meat in oil over moderate heat, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In fat remaining in skillet cook onions and garlic over medium low heat, covering and stirring every few minutes until golden. Stir in herbs (including bay leaf), scallions or parsley, tomatoes with juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover mixture, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. At this point, you're going to look in the pan and say to yourself "Wow, that's a lot of tomato sauce. I thought this was a bean dish?" Just wait.

Slice sausages into ¼" pieces if using link sausage. Add meat and beans to tomato mixture and cook, stirring, until heated through, marveling at how the tomato sauce you thought you had disappeared and turned into a lovely bean dish, accented with tomatoes. Discard bay leaf and keep "cassoulet" warm, covered. Add balsamic vinegar just before serving and stir through. (Don't skip the balsamic vinegar! Seriously, if you don't have any in your kitchen, go get some. You will never want to be without it. It's like Italian soy sauce.)

Serve with rolls or a loaf of crusty bread.

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