A quick scroll through the archives tells me that the last dinner recipe I shared was on November 23rd. Say what? How is that even possible? I can assure you we’ve been eating dinner every day since, and while they weren’t always sharable meals (scrambled eggs and toast, I’m looking at you), there were definitely a few home runs worthy of writing about.
Take, for example, this simple stovetop cassoulet from Real Simple magazine. In the winter of 2007/2008 I made it weekly. The boys were just beginning to eat beans with the same enthusiasm as bacon, and I was building up an arsenal of one-pot recipes making this healthy stovetop supper a meal we could all get behind. It became such a staple that I jotted down the ingredients in my recipes-we’ll-eat-forever notebook, only to forget about it come spring when fresh salads made us forget about how much we loved this sausage and bean stew.
Last fall, while attempting to KonMari my recipe collection (side note: I failed miserably and just bought the book in an attempt to give decluttering a solid effort), I stumbled upon the Real Simple cassoulet I had all but forgotten about, and immediately made it for dinner. It may have been popular with the boys eight or nine years ago, but now they’ve declared it a favourite and we’re back to adding it to our meal plan every other week or so.
Here’s what I love most about this recipe: this isn’t a traditional long cooking cassoulet with multiple varieties of meats (which I happen to love, by the way), but instead is made with lean sausage, carrots and parsnips, and offers variations that make it suitable for those who eat dairy-free, gluten-free, and red meat-free. It’s also crowd-pleasing and can be served at dinner parties and casual gatherings, not to mention an average Wednesday night when it’s just your own family crowded around the table. In essence, the recipe rocks and I hope it becomes part of your dinner rotation, too.
Real Simple Cassoulet
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1lb. chicken or turkey sausage (you can use pork if desired), casings removed
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 parsnips, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 cup whole (but chopped) or crushed tomatoes (you can also use tomato sauce, if you prefer)
- 3 19-ounce (540 mL) cans cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp. melted salted butter
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage until well browned, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels; set aside.
Pour out the excess oil from the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth, vegetables, beans, thyme, salt, pepper, and half the garlic. Return the sausage to the pot and mix well, scraping up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour, until thickened and the vegetables are tender.
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, combine the bread-crumbs, parsley, butter, and remaining garlic. Sprinkle in an even layer over the cassoulet and place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Notes: To make the dish gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs in place of the panko. To make the dish dairy-free, swap in olive oil for the butter in the breadcrumb topping.