For our anniversary on Wednesday night, Boy and I went to Luna Park. It is one of our favorite restaurants because they have a) killer macaroni and cheese b) S'MORES FOR DESSERT and c) a Scotch menu featuring 3 Islay varieties for the Boy. Did I mention the S'mores? Because, seriously? There are S'mores. With dark chocolate ganache, homemmade graham crackers and molten marshmallow that comes out in a little ramekin suspended over a candle.
We always order the mac and cheese with a few other things to share. Boy won't order meat there because the mac and cheese is seriously that good . . . and since we'd feel silly getting TWO orders we try to round out with salads and soups and whatnot. This time we tried the Vegan White Bean Cassoulet and, while I quite like beans, my hopes weren't THAT high . . . considering we were also going to have a plate of MAC AND CHEESE, you know?
Internet: I barely touched that mac and cheese.
The white beans were INSANE. You could tell they were dried beans to begin with since they still had a bit of a bite to them and they were cooked just perfectly in the most amazing garlic-y (but not too garlic-y) broth with halved cherry tomatoes and chard, of all things, which I'd never even TRIED before but which was absolutely perfect. And the kicker? The whole thing was topped off with the most gorgeous, fresh herby pesto.
I'm not really exaggerating when I say that I went home and DREAMED about white beans.
I wanted to try to recreate the recipe while everything was still fresh in my head and so last night I gave it a shot and came, I think, pretty damn close. I've got the leftovers for lunch today and they're singing to me like sirens from the corner of my desk. That last bit could just be because I'm pregnant.
Vegetarian White Bean Cassoulet
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only chopped finely
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 smallish carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery ribs, finely diced
- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 lb dried white beans
- 8 cups cold water
- 1 sturdy branch of thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 2-3 stock cubes
- about 1/2 a bunch of chard, washed, sliced up the middle vein and chopped into chunks
- 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pesto:
- 3 green onions, washed and trimmed
- a bunch of italian parsley, washed
- a big handful of basil, washed
- about 3 tblsp water
- about 3 tblsp olive oil
- Set olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven to melt. Add leeks, carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook a few minutes until beginning to soften
- Add white beans, water, thyme and bay leaves (but no salt or stock yet) and set to a low simmer
- Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or so, uncovered, until beans are soft
- Add stock cubes, chard and tomatoes (and a bit of additional water if necessary), cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so more to combine flavors and lightly cook chard and tomatoes
- Meanwhile, place herbs, olive oil, water and salt in a food processor or blender (I used our Magic Bullet!) and puree until smooth
- Makes 4 big servings, each topped with pesto and excellent served with crusty sourdough
Counting the minutes until lunchtime . . .