This hearty vegan cassoulet is a festive way to feed a crowd – whether as a main for vegetarians, or as a side dish for meat-eaters.
A traditional French cassoulet is a legendary, almost-mythical creature. Confited duck legs, giant sausages, and pork skin get nestled into creamy white beans, topped with seasoned breadcrumbs, and baked. It’s the stick-to-your-ribs kind of peasant food that seems practically barbaric. And I mean that in the best way possible – as in, cassoulet does not f*ck around.
I had the pleasure of eating the real thing in Paris last winter. It was an unusually windy, freezing, rainy night, and thanks to the benevolence of the gods, we got a table at Chez Denise without a reservation.
Maybe the gods sensed a global pandemic was coming and were like, “Fine, here you go. You probably won’t be back for a while…”
Admittedly, my girlfriends did not share my enthusiasm for ordering a bean dish. But man, did their eyes light up as that steaming, bubbly casserole was set on our table by the stoic French waiter. By the end of the meal, there wasn’t a single bean left behind.
Here’s my vegan, home cook-friendly version of cassoulet (pronounced kae-soo-lay). It’s got saucy, tomato-y white beans, earthy roasted veg, and a crunchy Panko topping. I’m sharing it just in time for the holidays, since it’s a festive way to feed a crowd – whether as a main for vegetarians, or as a side dish for meat-eaters.
How to Make Vegan Cassoulet
In place of those pork and duck bits, this cassoulet (or “bean gratin”, if you prefer) features roasted mushrooms, carrots, and fennel. You start the recipe by roasting these separately.
(Don’t forget to save those ‘shroom stems, fennel tops, and carrot peels to make veg scrap broth later!)
Meanwhile, you get started on the beans by sautéing the aromatics. Then you add the beans and simmer them with mushroom broth and tomato sauce.
Finally, you combine the brothy beans with the roasted veg, sprinkle the mixture with a crunchy Panko-parsley topping, and bake until golden brown.
If Cooking In Advance…
One thing about this cassoulet: after you cover and store it in the fridge, the top will no longer be crispy. If you want to cook this in advance, cook it through step 6. (The vegetable-bean base will keep in the fridge for up to several days). When you’re ready to serve it, sprinkle it with the Panko mixture and bake it off.
Although I am an advocate for home-cooked beans, I know it’s not always realistic. You can make this vegetarian cassoulet with either from-scratch beans or canned ones.
Japanese-style Panko breadcrumbs are available in most supermarkets these days, but if you can’t find them, regular ones will do. You can also make your own breadcrumbs by blitzing some stale bread in a food processor.Print
For the Cassoulet
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
- 2 medium carrots (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (dried rosemary or thyme also OK)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cups cooked white beans (or 3 cans, drained and rinsed)
- One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup mushroom or vegetable broth
For the Topping
- 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Place the mushrooms, carrots, and fennel on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and roast until golden brown, about 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large high-sided skillet oven medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, herbes de Provence, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the beans, tomato sauce, and broth. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the topping. In a bowl, toss together the Panko, parsley, and nutritional yeast. Add the oil and salt and rub the mixture together with your fingers to incorporate the oil.
- Stir the roasted vegetables into the beans and transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.
- Sprinkle with the Panko mixture. Reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF and bake until the topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serving Size: 1/10 of the recipe
- Calories: 387
- Carbohydrates: 61.1 g
- Fiber: 15.2 g
- Protein: 21.2 g
Keywords: french, cassoulet, vegetarian, fennel, white beans