The white bean cassoulet at a local French Bistro, Martel, is one of my favorite dishes. Even the guarantee of garlic-breath does not deter. And though I like to think it’s healthy – what with the white beans and escarole or spinach – I know in my heart (sorry, pun intended) that this oil-butter-laden dish is, in truth, not a healthy choice.
Fast forward to our annual New Year’s Eve pot luck dinner. A friend whose teenage daughter is coping with very high cholesterol brought a vegetarian white bean cassoulet that was scrumptious. And healthy. Totally amazing.
In fact, this was so good, we all asked our friend Lisa for the recipe. When she replied, “Oh, it’s the cassoulet from Martel,” I snarked something like, “Um, what? You asked for the recipe and they gave it to you?” Lisa’s puzzled answer was, “No, I just made it.” A month later, I’m still astonished (ok, jealous) that someone who is not a chef can conjure a recipe to match something they’ve tasted.
The next day Lisa emailed us her ‘recipe,’ the vagueness of which made me literally laugh out loud. It seems that someone with a creative mind brilliant enough to replicate a restaurant dish from scratch may not also possess the attention-to-detailedness to scribe it into a recipe others can follow.
With LASIK eye surgery looming (hence my blogging absence the last 2 weeks – all went well, sorry for the lapse!), I needed a few dishes to make ahead & store in my fridge for easy, lo-co lunches and dinners. In the weeks approaching my surgery date, I found a ‘cassoulet’ recipe on Epicurious, and married it with Lisa’s vague ‘White Bean Cassoulet’ directions. I made it 3 times – sometimes with sausage, sometimes without – until I had a recipe with clear steps.
Though not technically a cassoulet as it is not slow-cooked (about 1/2 hour or 45 minutes), this tastes great and is easy to make. My teenage son even gave the sausage version a thumbs up – though he ate around the beans.
The following is a recipe made with Turkey Sausage (you could substitue chicken sausage – of any flavoring you like) and I included a vegetarian version on my recipes page.
Going Lo-Co Turkey Sausage & White Bean ‘Cassoulet’
(adapted from Lisa Goto & Epicurious)
- 1 package Shady Brook Farm Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 onions, minced
- ~1 TB Grapeseed or Olive Oil (could use less)
- Tomatoes: 1 lb Campari tomatoes, halved (or plum/medium-sized tomatoes, quartered)*
- 19 oz can of white beans – cannellini (or Navy or Great Northern), rinsed and drained. Could use 2 cans.
- 6 oz baby spinach leaves (can use more)
- Asiago (or freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Pecorino) cheese to taste
- OPTIONAL: 1 ½ teaspoon mixed chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and/or sage, or ¾ teaspoon mixed dried herbs, crumbled.
* The Epicurious recipe calls for a 14 ½ oz can of diced tomatoes including juice – so you could use that, though I’ve not tried it.
- Mince garlic, onions and slice tomatoes in half. Rinse and drain beans and wash spinach if needed.
- In medium skillet brown sausages in oil over moderate heat, turning them until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- In same skillet (add a bit of oil if needed), sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and clear – about 5-10 minutes.
- Add herbs if using, and the halved tomatoes (or canned tomatoes, with juice) and cook until the tomatoes basically melt down – about 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut sausage into 1/4 –inch-thick slices.
- Add sausage, beans and cheese and cook until cheese is melted – about 3-5 minutes
- Add spinach and keep on heat, stirring, until spinach leaves are lightly cooked.
Enjoy… great with a nice, crusty bread!