Cassoulet is a hearty French stew that traditionally combines a few types of meat, usually duck and pork, with beans and various aromatic vegetables. It typically is left to simmer all day, resulting in a thick, rich stew that is the perfect meal for a cold winter night. While the image of lovingly and patiently tending to a stew all afternoon seems romantic, the notion ends when we glance at our schedule. Or that heap of laundry. The reality is, we all need recipes in our arsenal that, even if they taste like they took all day to prepare, are quick and simple to throw together.
That's why this cassoulet recipe has become the favorite in my household. It's easy and quick to prepare and, oh yes, it is also vegetarian.
Whatever our reason -- be it health, environmental or ethical -- many of us are making an effort to cut back on our meat consumption. The key to not missing the meat in this dish is the addition of smoked paprika. It gives the stew that smoky flavor that can trick even the most cunning foodie into thinking you snuck just a little bacon in there.
The crunchy, garlicky breadcrumbs are a welcome contrast to the creamy, rich stew.
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