Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sausage and vegetable cassoulet

Let’s mark the day – February 16th

Tuesday was the first day of 2010 that I got to run outside sans long pants, sans fleece.  In fact, I was in running shorts and a t-shirt. 

Though purple crocuses are starting to pop up along the sidewalks in Portland, I felt like I needed to pinch myself this week when I realized it was more than pleasant enough for an easy outdoor run.  While on said run, I noticed pink cherry blossoms starting to bloom along the waterfront. 

The signs of spring in Portland are already here.

It still seems strange to this Minnesota gal to think in February that the season of warm, hearty soups and stews will soon be over.  Scenes like the one above, a picture I took on a recent snowshoeing trip on Mt. Hood, will be a distant memory – at least, until next year.

But, we’re not quite there yet.  There’s still time to enjoy some heavy, warming bowls of foodie goodness.

Like this cassoulet – one of my favorite dishes.  It’s not quite as heavy as a thick, meaty stew, but it’s certainly hearty and very easy to throw together.

Sausage and vegetable cassoulet
This isn’t really a true cassoulet, which are usually baked in a pot with lots of meat pieces in the oven – they are usually much heavier.  I like the simplicity of this one.  I also like to take it off the heat while the veggies are still al dente (just a bit of bite left).  Just personal preference.

4 pork or chicken kielbasa sausages, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, diced
4 or 5 stalks celery, sliced
3 or 4 small zucchini, sliced
1 can white navy or cannellini beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp dried basil
Freshly grated black pepper
Crème fraiche

In a large pot or dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots, and celery with a few tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften.

Add sausages, zucchini, garlic, and basil, continuing to stir.  Add the can of beans, with liquid and stir to mix.  Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Garnish each bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche and freshly grated black pepper.


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