Local food has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, but the concept is not new. In Original Local (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013), author Heid E. Erdrich delves into the recipes of indigenous people who have always made the most of nature’s gifts. This Vegetarian Cassoulet Recipe With Great Northern Beans is from Section 5, “Vegetables and Beans.”
You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Original Local.
Vegetarian Cassoulet Recipe With Great Northern Beans
Great northern beans are descended from an ancient bean grown by indigenous people in North Dakota. Scott Shoemaker, who works with indigenous plants at the Science Museum of Minnesota, told me that Son of Star, a Hidatsa farmer, gave the bean to Oscar Will, whose father owned a seed company.
In this vegetarian version of the classic French comfort food often considered the culinary height of the white bean, we have used mock duck (made of wheat gluten) and Field Roast brand vegetarian sausage, which holds up well to slow-cooking and comes in many varieties, including one appropriately flavored with wild rice.
• 2-1/2 cups stock, divided
• 7 cups cooked great northern beans, or use white kidney beans or navy beans
• 3 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
• 4 cups coarsely chopped onions
• 4 carrots, coarsely chopped on diagonal, or 1 cup butternut squash, cut into half-inch cubes
• 1-1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
• 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed, or 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
• 3/4 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
• 1 teaspoon juniper ash, optional
• 1 cup water, divided
• 8 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
• 4–5 links firm meatless sausage, cut into bite-size pieces, or 1 (20-ounce) can mock duck, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, drained and chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1. Heat stock to a boil, then pour 2 cups into slow cooker turned to high; stir in beans and cover.
2. In a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil, stir in onions, and cook until softened and beginning to turn translucent.
3. Stir in carrots (if using) and continue cooking until all onions are translucent and some are browning.
4. Add thyme, rosemary or juniper, sage, and ash (if using), and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until you can smell the herbs.
5. Add remaining 1/2 cup stock and 1/2 cup water, stirring to scrape bottom of pan, and then stir in garlic.
6. Pour onion mixture into slow cooker with beans; replace lid.
7. In the same skillet, over medium heat, warm remaining tablespoon oil and brown sausage pieces (if using).
8. Add 1/2 cup water, stirring to scrape bottom of pan, and then add sausage and liquid to slow cooker.
9. Stir in tomatoes, mock duck (if using), and squash cubes (if using), replace lid, and turn heat to medium low.
10. Cook 6 to 8 hours.
Want more recipes from Original Local? Try these recipes:
Reprinted with permission from Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest, by Heid E. Erdrich, and published by Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013. Purchase this book from our store: Original Local.