It's interesting how certain recipes seem to be what all the kids are making these days. Veganomicon has a huge selection of things to make, but certain ones really stood out as a "must make" for whatever reason. The chickpea cutlets, smlove pie (I have yet to make this one, though I will soon) and leek and bean cassoulet are some of those.
At first I thought this was going to be like a different kind of stew with dumplings, sorta like my vegan "chicken" and dumplings. But no! The flavors blend fantastically, with a nice assortment of colors and textures in the dish. The biscuits add that little something extra to make this a great vegan stick-to-your-ribs kinda thing; perfect for those cold winter days.
Remember all that vegetable stock that I made and froze into little portioned thingies? I used that when making this. Let me tell you, using my own broth made a huge difference in the flavor. I could definitely taste it, so if you have your own broth hanging out somewhere, use that for sure. You won't be sorry. And really, veggie broth is the easiest thing in the world to make. You just chop up a bunch of veggies, put them in a pot with water and then go watch Dexter while it's simmering for 3 hours. Easy peasy.
Seriously, eating this will fill you up. I took some leftovers to work for lunches and I noticed that I didn't get hungry until dinner time after eating this. Usually I grab a pear or an apple and almond butter around 4:00 or so, but not after this. It stayed with me. Definitely something I'll make the next time it snows. My theory is that if I make this and then go out and play in the snow, I will be able to stay out longer. Yeah... that's what I want to think anyway.
I'm not going to share the recipe for everything that I make from cookbooks, but I am going to share this one because I'm hoping you will make it and then go buy Veganomicon. I will definitely be making this again. I don't have a cast iron pan (*cry*), so I just transferred everything from a big pot on the stove to a casserole dish, which worked out just fine.
Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cups vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, cut into medium-size dice
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth is, so taste it first)
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 (15 oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed (about 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup plain soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening (like Earth Balance or Spectrum)
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain immediately so they do not overcook. While they are boiling, you can prep the rest of the veggies and start preparing the biscuits - the potatoes should definitely be done by the time you are.
Now, prepare everything for the biscuits. You're not going to make them yet, but it's good to have everything ready when it comes time to top the stew. Add the vinegar to the soy milk in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
Now leave that alone and start the stew. Mix the cornstarch into the vegetable stock until dissolved.
Preheat an oven-safe skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute in the oil the leeks, onions, and carrots until very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Keep the heat moderate so that they don't burn.
Add the garlic, thyme, freshly ground black pepper and salt, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cooked potatoes and frozen peas, then pour in the vegetable stock mixture. Raise the heat just a bit; it will take a few minutes but the liquid will start simmering. Once it does, lower the heat again. Let it simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, but no longer than that. If you need more time for the biscuits, then turn off the heat under the stew.
Back to the biscuits: Add the shortening to the flour in small slivers and work it into the dough with a fork or with your fingers until large crumbs form. You don't want to cream it in; there should be clumps. Drizzle in the soy milk and mix with a fork until everything is moistened (some dry parts are okay).
Wash and dry your hands, then lightly flour them and get them dirty again. Gently knead the dough about ten times right in the bowl, just so that it is holding together and not very sticky. If it seems sticky, as in sticking to your fingers, then gently work in a little more flour. Set that aside and check on your stew.
The stew should be simmering and slightly thickened. Mix in the beans. Now, let's add the biscuits. Pull off chunks of dough that are about slightly larger than golf balls. Gently roll them into balls and flatten a bit; they do not have to be perfectly round. Add them tot he top of the stew, placed an inch or so apart.
Transfer the whole megillah to the preheated oven. If you are worried about spillover, place it on a rimmed baking sheet, but we've never had that problem. Bake for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be just slightly browned and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and use a large serving spoon to place some of the stew and a biscuit in each shallow, individual bowl. Sprinkle with a little chopped, fresh thyme.
Serve at last! Especially yummy when you break up your biscuit and mix it in a bit with your stew.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero