Saturday, 8 January 2011

Leek and Butter bean cassoulet

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the south of France. Traditionally cassoulet is made with meat and white haricot beans. The dish is named after its cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.

I was a little alarmed to read that the Cassoulet has now been commercialised and can be found in cans at many French supermarkets. For me a cassoulet is a homely dish, one that sings frugal and comfort. It reminds me a little of Shepherds Pie or hearty stews and neither of these dishes are designed for cans, but ones to be made from scratch, filling the home with those bubbling smells.

Anyway, this is vegetable based version made with succulent leeks and butter beans that melt in your mouth. The deep red sauce is topped with herby crispy breadcrumbs. Oh when you tuck into this, you will also find an unexpected surprise. In place of some of the butter beans you will note some whole cloves of garlic. Please don't be shocked, if cooked properly they will not leave you with 'garlic breath' as they are sweet and should just dissolve in your mouth just like the butter beans.
And guess what it's snowing outside again...
Leeks and Butter Bean Cassoulet
Serves 4
1 x 400g tinned butter beans, drained and rinsed or soak 260g butter beans overnight.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled
2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 x 400g can of tomatoes, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 pint of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
For the crust
110g stale white bread, blitzed in a food processor
80ml olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
If using dried butter beans, rinse and drain them. Put into a saucepan and over with plenty of water. Simmer for about an hour until tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and fry over low heat until soft and golden. Add the whole cloves of garlic, leeks and thyme. Cover and fry gently for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time until the leeks are tender. Add the tomatoes, breaking them well with a spatula if not chopped. Add the potatoes, butter beans, stock and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Turn off.
For the crust
Combine all the ingredients together
Preheat oven to Gas mark 4.
Pour into a large casserole and scatter over the breadcrumbs and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 - 30 minutes. Adapted from Leiths Vegetarian Bible by Polly Tyrer


  1. We also have snow here and this dish is perfect for this weather. I'm going to make it tomorrow. Thanks.

  2. Fantastic, and I approve of the garlic too :-)

  3. Ooooooh, this looks really delicious! I love the idea of a vegetarian cassoulet, and the combo of butter beans plus leeks sounds super yummy!

  4. I honestly don't think I've evr had leeks. Your meals always look healthy, pretty and filling.

  5. One of my alltime favorite weekend meals.

  6. I love cassoulet and it is perfect for the snowy weather that you keep having - I have a post on cassoulet that you might enjoy - with the best cassoulet recipe that I have found - eggplants and mushrooms give some meatiness that I love - but I would be willing to give this version a try as it seems a good hearty one

  7. This looks so hearty and satisfying. I love leeks, and also the crunchy topping.

  8. I love Cassoulet! But unlike the traditional version which takes 2 or 3 days to make (right?) this would fill the ticket quickly! What a delicious dish for this time of year.

  9. Fabulous blog - will definitely try some of these recipes out in the summer when the veg garden is less bare!

  10. Sorry to read that you have snow too - Marian.
    If you do get round to making this dish, I hope you like. Please let me know how you find it.

    Thank you Alessandra.
    The garlic was good :-)

    Thank you Sara.

    Many people tend to use leeks in place of onions, but as a Welsh girl I try to use it as an ingredient. Please do look out for some and give it a try. They are quite sweet.

    Thank you Rosaria :)

  11. Thank you Johanna GGG.
    I will check it and who knows may give it go. You know that aubergines are something I am not that fond of and always on the hunt for different ways of eating it.

    Thanks Emma.
    The topping is cruncy, but too long on top it will absorbe the sauce liquid and become a tad soggy.

    Thank you so much Boulder Locaovre.

    Thank you so, so much Zelda Manners.

  12. I love your new banner Mangocheeks. And this cassoulet sounds great. I can imagine eating it with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Mmmmmmmmm. I would have to substitute the butterbeans though. Had a childhood trauma with butterbeans and can't touch them.

  13. Hello - I have been recommended to visit you by Jee at Jeeandme as she told me you were had lots of lovely veggie recipes. Pop over to my blog and you will see why this is of interest to me! I will certainly be adding your blog to my list and keeping an eye on what you are doing.


  14. Sounds great, but for me a cassoulet needs Toulouse sausages! The purists would insist that it it also includes duck... We all agree that loads of garlic is good though.

  15. I adore leeks and this sounds like a fabulous veggie version of cassoulet! Great comfort food during these snowy, wintry months.

    P.S. Love your new header photo!

  16. Brilliant, guess what we're having for tea tonight!!

    I'm at the beginning of a Challenge I set myself to live off the contents of cupboards, fridges, and freezers for as long as possible and I have 3 leeks to use up today, it was going to be a boring (but tasty) leek and potato soup, but this is a MUCH better idea.

    Thanks for the brilliant timing.

    Sue xx

  17. Thank you Jacqueline.
    I'm rather pleased with it too. Its a photograph that has already featured on my blog.

    Sorry to read that the butterbeans donot feature in your diet because of a traumatic childhood experience. Please do sub with another bean of your choice :)

    Hello Jane aka marigold jam.
    So lovely to make your acquaintance and it is so kind of Jee at Jeeandme to send you over.
    Thank you so, so much for adding me to your blogroll - it is most kind of you and most appreciated. I will def. come by your blog space! Presently I am trying to use up lots of ingredeints in my storecupboards inc. the freezer and some fresh seasonal produce - lots of green stuff about - leeks for sure!

    Thanks Mark Willis.
    I completely accept what you are saying and if I was a meat and two veg person and a purist I'd be echoeing your words - But I am not :)
    Did you see my vegan haggis recipe? I wonder what the haggis purists would say :D

    Thank you so much Eggy.
    Its certainly is good for these snowy, wintry months that seem never ending.

    Thanks about my new header photo too. I do like it!

    Thank you Sue aka sue15cat.
    I hope you enjoy. Please let me know how you find it!

    Although I have nto set myself a Challenge liek you, I too am attempting to use up some of the contents of cupboards and freezers. Oh don't underestimate leek and potato soup, I have a load of leeks that i picked up at the weekend and may just have to make some, perhaps with a little twist of course.

    Thank you so so much for your lovely comment which I really enjoyed reading. Please do come again :)

  18. Mmmm - butterbeans are delicious. You have inspired me to cook up a decent stew sometime soon.

  19. Comfort food so perfect for this time of year. Looks very inviting indeed!
    Happy New Year and all the best for 2011!

  20. Thank you Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

    Happy New Year to you too!

    Thanks vic. I like it too.

  21. re the aubergine in the recipe I use - this is one of my favourite recipes with them in it - they give a good texture without dominating and they cook a long time so they are meltingly soft - I am not that fond of fennel and also love it in this recipe

  22. Thanks sweetbittertart.

    I'm not that fond of aubergine, but if they are meltingly soft then you have certainly persuaded me to make your recipe. So I will have to bookmark it to make in the future.
    Thanks x

  23. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It has opened up my eyes to real honest to goodness vegie food. I love the way the herbs interact with the vegies.


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