I thought long and hard about the title of this dish. As a serious foodie, I thought I may be committing some kind of food sin where all the great French chefs of the past would roll over in their graves at the thought of a Cassoulette without meat.
Well for starters, if you are not familiar with what a Cassoulette is, it is a rich and hearty dish that originated in France, consisting of meat (typically duck and pork sausage), white beans, with a tomato base. My memories of Cassoulette take me back to when my husband and I lived in the city, and on a cold rainy Friday night would dress up and cab to the top of Queen Anne Hill to one of our favorite restaurants, Betty. I remember having a particularly fabulous Casoulette there, and ever since they always make me think of a great fall meal.
In our house we always do a vegetarian day at least once a week, and I have actually been straying towards eating more vegetarian most of the time lately. So, on this first cold night in September where fall all-of-a-sudden appeared, I was determined to make a vegetarian version of this beautiful dish! The fats from the meats are of course a huge addition of flavor to a traditional Casoulette, and though I knew this vegetarian version would be lighter, I did not want to do this dish any disservice.
So, here is my attempt at making a vegetarian Casoulette! Though mushrooms would not be a traditional addition to this dish, I think next time I might dice and add some because I think it would round out the flavor profile a little more.
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2t extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large head of cauliflower, chopped into generous chunks
- 2C cooked white beans
- 1/3lb of pasta (Just think 1/3 a box/bag… I used extra-large elbows and they were fun!)
- 3-12oz cans of vegetable broth
- 1-28oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed (any crushed tomatoes work, but San Marzano are the house favorite)
- 1/2t dried chopped rosemary (we actually had some fresh from the garden and it was lovely)
- 1/2t dried chopped oregano
- 1/2t garlic powder
- salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
In a large pot, heat your olive oil. Toss in your onion and garlic and saute lightly until they start to sweat.
Pour in your vegetable broth and heat to a vigorous simmer. Toss in your cauliflower and continue to simmer as the broth reduces, about 10 minutes.
Add your tomatoes, pasta, white beans and continue to simmer until your pasta is cooked. Allow the sauce to reduce down until it is the consistency of a stew. Stir in your herbs/spices and serve while hot!