White Bean Cassoulet with Aspargus and Zucchini

White Bean Cassoulet with Asparagus and Zucchini

It was the first day of our school’s “Walking School Bus” and I drove my daughter today.  We live a few blocks from school and walk every day, but today we were so late, I had to drive her!

This is my life.  Always behind by about 10 minutes, sometimes more… Trying to catch up just doesn’t seem to work, so I try to get things done ahead of time to make things less stressful and give the illusion that I am making up lost time…

And that is just what I did tonight.  White Bean Cassoulet with Asparagus and Zucchini  was my vegetarian dinner of the week.   I prepared the vegetables and the bean mixture yesterday morning when I had a window of time, and they have been ready and waiting in my refrigerator.

Cooking the White Bean Cassoulet

Blanching the Asparagus and Zucchini

When I was ready, I made the bread crumbs in the food processor and the garlic toasts in the broiler. I warmed the cassoulet in the microwave, topped the dish with the bread crumbs, broiled for just about 3 minutes and served immediately.  You can put the mixture and breadcrumbs in a casserole dish, broil and serve from there, or you can plate them like I did (and have one less dish to wash…). Be careful if you do this as the plates get very hot.

Making the Bread Crumb Topping

The Finishing Touch - Broiling the Bread Crumb Topping

The Verdict

10’s all around! But…

When I made the white bean mixture yesterday, I omitted the pepper as my daughter is extremely averse to pepper seasoning, and I knew she would give the dish a horrible rating if she tasted pepper!  Upon serving, the rest of us agreed that the dish needed something. It lacked flavor, zing, zest, …something!  No one could put their finger on what was missing, but once I remembered that I had left the pepper out, I gave each dish (except my daughter’s) a little sprinkle, and that was all it took.  Everyone, including my daughter, loved the meal. I am excited to put this meal in my rotation as most of my vegetarian meals are soups.  This is a wonderful change and something that I would make again.

One note: The bean mixture, requires oyster mushrooms.  My kids say they do not like mushrooms and usually turn their noses up to a dish that includes mushrooms.  Sight influences taste. So I chopped the mushrooms up very finely – luckily, oyster mushrooms have a very mild flavor.  The kids did not identify a mushroom taste – or anything negative while they ate it.  In defense of my “sneakiness”, I am a firm believer in being honest with my kids – even when it would be much easier to bend the truth.  So if they had asked if there were mushrooms I would have disclosed that there were.  But they didn’t, so my lips are sealed!

Recipe

White Bean and Asparagus Cassoulet

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids + 1 lunch

Ingredients

5 C Water

3 C (2 inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 lb.)

2 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks

2 T olive oil, divided

3 C finely sliced chanterelle or oyster mushrooms (about 10 oz.)

1/3 C finely chopped shallots

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 C dry white wine

1 1/2 C vegetable broth

1/2 t dried oregano

2 15 oz. cans no salt added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 freshly ground black pepper

2 oz French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 5″ of a skinny baguette)

1 T butter or butter substitute

1/2 C grated parmesan cheese or manchenga cheese

Extra slices of baguette

Butter, or butter substitute

Garlic powder, to sprinkle

Instructions

1. Blanche asparagus and zucchini.  To do this, bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus and zucchini to the water for 2 minutes.

2. Drain. Rinse asparagus with cold water and put some ice on top to stop the cooking process. Set Aside.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 T oil. Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Saute 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

4. Add wine. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

5. Stir in broth, oregano, and beans. Bring to a simmer.

6. Reduce heat to medium.  Cook 12 minutes or until thick and beans are tender. Stir in black pepper. (If you have people sensitive to black pepper, leave out or reduce and add to individual plates when serving.  The black pepper makes this dish so don’t leave it out if you don’t have to!)

7. Pre-heat broiler

8.  Butter and sprinkle garlic powder on extra pieces of baguette.

9.  Place in broiler for 2 – 3 minutes or until bread starts to turn golden brown. Set aside.

8. Place bread and butter in food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form.

9. Add remaining 1 T oil and cheese to coarse crumbs and pulse until combined.

10. Stir asparagus into bean mixture, top with bread mixture and broil for 3 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.

11. Portion on to plates / bowls and serve this hearty and savory dish with garlic bread and  see how many rave reviews you get!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1. Follow recipe through step 6.  Store bean mixture and vegetables separately until ready to finish recipe.

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