Monday, January 20, 2014

Kale, White Bean, and Tempeh Cassoulet

"Welcome to the world of Posh Nosh. For me, this is a dream come true. All my life, I've wanted to bring extraordinary food to ordinary people...I once ate a Flayed Swordfish And Guava Millefeuille that reminded me, in one sweet mouthful, of a Sea Interlude by Britten, [and] a painting by Turner..."
~ Simon Marchmont

Sorry for the longish absence; between the holiday craziness and the back-to-school craziness, there hasn't been a lot of kitchen creativity hereabouts. But I'm about to change all that with this yummy one-pot meal. The idea for this dish came from one of my tried-and-true fonts of culinary inspiration, the food section in The Guardian. Over the years, this invaluable resource has yielded many interesting meals, often with a pleasingly Posh Nosh vibe. This is particularly true when I undertake the veganization of some outrageously meat-laden offering submitted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or that consummate wanker, Jay "if it hasn't suffered in some smugly baroque, hideous, and completely unnecessary manner, I refuse to eat it" Rayner.

Today's offering was inspired by Allegra McEvedy's Sausage, Kale and Flageolet Cassoulet, whose promise of hearty, bean-and-kale-filled goodness seemed a perfect wintertime dinner. (NB that I don't mean to tar Ms. McEvedy - oh, let's do call her Allegra, shall we? - with the same brush as Simon and Minty Marchmont; it's just such cheap and easy fun to take the piss out of foodies.) Anyway, she describes this dish as "not a true cassoulet, but a variation on the pig 'n' beans theme," and I decided to go her one better by deviating from that theme by upping the vegetable content and replacing that poor piggie with tempeh. The results were very good indeed, and so substantial that a single bowl - with the possible addition of crusty bread to soak up the broth - is more than enough to silence a growling tummy on a cold January night.

Kale, White Bean, and Tempeh Cassoulet
~ 1 cup raw cashews
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk, heated almost to boiling
~ 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
~ 1 8 oz. package tempeh, cut into 1/2" cubes
~ 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 6 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 tsp. each: dried, ground rosemary, tarragon
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, marjoram
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ 1 15 oz. can navy, cannellini, or other white beans, drained
~ 4 cups no chicken broth
~ 1 generous tsp. Marmite
~ 1 bunch kale, stripped, cleaned and chopped
~ 1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

~ Soak the raw cashews in the hot soy milk for at least 30 minutes; puree until smooth and set aside.
~ In a deep, heavy-based pot, heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil and fry the tempeh cubes over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
~ Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the celery, carrot, garlic, and seasonings. Stir to combine and continue cooking 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the onions slightly browned, stirring occasionally.  (You can add a splash of water if things get sticky.)
~ Pour in the broth and the drained beans, and stir in the Marmite. Bring to what Allegra calls "a relaxed simmer," and stir in the reserved tempeh, chopped kale, and pureed cashew mixture. Mix well, then cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
~ Stir in the chopped parsley, taste for seasonings, and serve hot.