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Posted Aug 27 2009 11:38pm

Please click here for more information regarding Roots.


6-8 SERVINGS In my experience, kids love this dish despite the copious amounts of vegetables of which it is composed! Make this in the fall and winter when root vegetables are at their peak freshness and sweetness. Have your kids help layer the cassoulet and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top – they are more likely to eat a meal they helped prepare.


2 cups rinsed Tarbais, Corona, or Canellini beans, picked over and rinsed (alternatively you could use canned beans, but they are a bit more taxing on the digestive system)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 dried chile, such as chile de arbol
2 yellow onions, peeled, trimmed, and diced
6 large cloves garlic, peeled, split, green germ removed, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste (from a tube, not a can!)
1 28-ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed with clean hands or pulsed in a blender/food processor
approximately 7 cups Homemade Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock (click here for Stock recipes)
1 large celery root (aka "celeriac"), peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch dice
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut on the bias into 3-inch lengths
3 medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut on the bias into 3-inch lengths
2 large turnips and/or rutabagas, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch dice

Bouquet garni with kombu: 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, and 2 sprigs fresh thyme, & 1 4-inch piece kombu tied together in a tea bag or cheesecloth with kitchen twine
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (simply throw stale bread in the food processor)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed, very finely chopped
¼ - ½ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

NOTES The beans require overnight soaking. Click here for more information.


1. The night before you want to make the casserole, put the dried beans in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by at least an inch. Let the beans soak overnight in the refrigerator, then rinse and drain them. (Or, if you're in a rush--or you haven't planned far enough in advance--bring the water with the beans to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, pull the pot from the heat, and soak the beans for an hour. Rinse the beans under cold water and drain.)
2. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or over medium heat. When it's hot, add the sprig of rosemary and chile de arbol; allow these aromatics to infuse the oil for about 2 minutes. Add the onion and half the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion and garlic are tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and, when it's incorporated evenly, add the canned tomatoes; pull the pan from the heat and set aside. Discard chile and rosemary.
3. Toss remaining vegetables with olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in a 425°F oven for approximately 30 - 45 minutes, turning once, until they are caramelized. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables; they will return to the oven in Step 5.
4. In the meantime, sauté remaining chopped garlic in a large Dutch oven or casserole (DO NOT salt). Once softened, add beans and pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add bouquet garni with kombu (kombu is a sea vegetable that facilitates the digestion of the beans and adds an abundance of nutrients to the cooking liquid). Lower the heat so that the liquid bubbles at a steady simmer, and cook, stirring now and then, until the beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes (the length of cooking depends on the age of the beans). Test several beans to make sure they are all cooked through. When the beans are done, pull the pot from the heat and discard the bouquet garni and kombu. Salt to taste. Strain the beans over a bowl and reserve 1 cup of bean liquid.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Stir the reserved bean liquid into the onion-tomato mixture along with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread an even layer of the tomato mixture onto the bottom of a large round or oval gratin dish. Spoon the beans and vegetables into a baking dish, alternating layers. and pouring the tomato mixture over each layer; you should end with the beans. Add additional liquid until it just covers the top layer of beans. (The casserole can be made up to this point, a day in advance - cooled and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before continuing.) Cook, uncovered for about 45 minutes, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if the casserole seems dry.
6. The Crust: Center a rack in the oven and raise the temperature to 400° F. Toss together the bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Spread the mixture evenly over the casserole and slide the casserole into the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown and crispy. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a simple green salad, lightly dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. mmmmm...

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