In the spirit of the book, I decided to ignore any desire to cook with good olive oil and stuck to Earth Balance for everything. I did ignore the suggestion to have cassoulet as a noon dinner and instead we started to eat around 10pm. I blame my own poor scheduling of the day for this.
In an effort to organize the recipe a bit better, I am going to group it by component like the book does and follow it with the instructions for that individual component. Assembly is at the end. You may find my use of fake meat to be lazy, but a dish that requires this amount of work does not inspire me to sit and cook my own seitan or make a fake kielbasa. I think at best, making your own seitan to stew with the tomato paste and herbs would work well if you want to make it from scratch, but the store bought absorbed the flavor very well. The dish ends up as a very hearty bean stew. If this were made of real meat, we might have had a hard time distinguishing some textures, but here it ends up very clear.
A few additional thoughts. One quick note about serving size- the original recipe serves 10-12. I approximately cut this in half and easily fed 4 people with plenty of leftovers. I also used the same skillet for each component without cleaning it. There is a lot of talk in the book about taking the rendered fat from the meat and saving it, but as a vegan I don’t have that luxury. Instead I found myself trying to save some of the flavor in the skillet and simply melting some more Earth Balance in it each time. You’ll see that I didn’t use all of the beans I cooked, and if I had a larger dish, I may have wanted more of the sausage cakes, mock lamb, and kielbasa to create more layers. But following these instructions you will end up with a very satisfying cassoulet. We ate ours with corn bread, made by my wonderful roommate over at Astorian Dream.
Please do not be alarmed by the amount of liquid smoke I used.
- 1/2lb dry white beans [I used Navy]
- 1 herb bouquet [3 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves, 2 garlic cloves]
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 2tbsp salt
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1lb dry Navy Beans. Let simmer, uncovered for 1 hr. Add herb bouquet, liquid smoke, salt, and water (as needed) and let simmer for 1hr.
- 1 package Gimme Lean ground sausage
- 1/2 onion
- 1-2tsp parsley, minced
- 1 clove garlic
- Pepper to taste
Fully incorporate the ingredients into the sausage by hand. Form into small patties by hand, approximately 2″ across and 1″ deep. Cook over medium heat in a greased skillet [1-2tbsp Earth Balance] until brown on each side. Set aside.
- 1 package Tofurkey Polish Kielbasa
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 tbsp Earth Balance
Slice the kielbasa into medallions, approximately 1/4″ thick. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until translucent and add the kielbasa. Cook until slightly browned. Set aside.
- Mock lamb:
- 2 packages cubed seitan (16oz total)
- 2c vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig thyme
- 3 tbsp Earth Balance melted
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- Salt & Pepper
Bring vegetable stock to boil. Add remaining ingredients except for seitan. Mix thoroughly. Cut seitan into bite-size pieces and add to stock. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
- 1 c bread crumbs
- 1-2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the herb bouquet from the beans and drain them. Retain liquid from the pot. Spread the beans to cover the bottom of a 2qt casserole dish evenly. Remove bay leaves and thyme from seitan. Spread a layer using the seitan and stock/tomato paste liquid, then a layer of kielbasa, and then layer the sausage cakes on top. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, pour melted Earth Balance on top. Add cooking liquid from the beans to the dish until you can see it near the top. Bring the cassoulet to a simmer on the stove, uncovered. Remove from stovetop and bake, uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes. Add some chopped parsley on top to garnish.