I never knew I could love a cassoulet so much. Stews have never really been my thing - I can enjoy them, but I tend to gravitate towards creamy dishes, rather than rich gravy-based dishes. This vegetarian cassoulet, though... so, so good. I think I might now be a stew person.
If you didn't already know, a cassoulet is a traditional French stew. It's usually made with white beans, and all kinds of meat - chicken, sausage, ham, bacon... evidently not particularly veggie-friendly. So, as I am wont to do, I thought I'd vegify it and make my very own vegetarian cassoulet.
I kept the sausages, since they're a pretty standard part of the dish, but obviously I used vegetarian sausages instead. I know not everybody enjoys 'fake meat', but I do like to use it on occasion, so in it went. This is a stew, remember - just throw in whatever you fancy. Since I was already completely bastardising the traditional recipe, I thought I'd mix it up even more and use puy lentils instead of the typical white beans. I absolutely adore puy lentils - they give the cassoulet a lovely depth and richness.
And, just in case my recipe still remotely resembled the traditional French dish, I decided to cook it on the hob instead of in the oven, like is usually done. Really, it's barely a cassoulet any more, but if I'm happy to call it a vegetarian cassoulet, then so should you be.
In fact, cooking it on the hob makes it a pretty quick dinner, unlike most stews! Just fry off your sausages and a quick mirepoix (that's a mixture of chopped carrot, onions and celery, for you uncultured folk), then add the lentils and some good-quality vegetable stock, and you're most of the way there.
By the way, don't be put off by the celery if you're not a fan. I detest raw celery - its flavour is suuuuper strong and really just not very pleasant, but it works beautifully in this vegetarian cassoulet. The flavour mellows a lot as it's cooked, and it ends up being really quite tasty. Along with the carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, bay... it's a really, really tasty dish. And that's before you've even cut into a sausage.
One last thing to note: it's surprisingly hard to find dried puy lentils in the supermarkets here (the supermarkets I go to, at least), so I used a sachet of pre-cooked lentils. If you have the opposite problem and you can't find the sachets, or you'd just prefer to use dried lentils, you can totally do that instead. Either pre-cook them yourself and then follow the recipe as written, or throw the dried lentils into the pan to simmer with all the other ingredients (though you'll need a bit of extra liquid this way, and it will need to simmer for longer).
Have you ever made a vegetarian cassoulet? (...and do you hate me for calling this a vegetarian cassoulet when it bears nearly no resemblance to the original?)
Sausage and puy lentil vegetarian cassoulet
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 6 vegetarian sausages
- 1 large carrot, cut into small dice
- 1 large stick celery, cut into small dice
- 1 red onion, cut into small dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 250 ml good quality vegetable stock (~ 1 cup)
- 250 g cooked puy lentils (~ 1 ⅓ cups)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 leaves bay
- Black pepper
- Fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan, and add the sausages, diced carrot, diced celery, diced onion, and minced garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are fairly soft and the sausages are lightly browned (alternatively, if you like your sausages to be very browned, fry them a little on their own before adding the vegetables).
- Add the vegetable stock, cooked puy lentils, dried thyme and bay leaves, and turn the heat down a little. Allow to simmer gently for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste, and remove the bay leaves before serving topped with fresh chopped parsley.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.