I know, cassoulet is all about meat or the “cassole” it’s cooked in. But cassoulet is a much nicer-sounding dish than “hotpot” or “stew thing with crumbs”. This is such a great one-pot meal that you'll probably want to become a vegetarian for the winter.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 onions, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 400 g canned crushed tomatoes
- 500 g pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 1 kg cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained, if canned)
- generous handful of cavolo nero, stems removed, leaves washed and shredded
- 140 g (2 cups) breadcrumbs, tossed with enough extra virgin olive oil so they glisten
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat olive oil in a large (ideally ovenproof) saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, bay leaves and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onions are starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Reduce heat to low, add paprika, coriander and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and 750 ml water to arrest the cooking. Increase heat to high and stir in pumpkin, chickpeas and cavolo nero. You’ll probably need to add some salt and pepper at this stage, but if you’re using canned chickpeas, they may be salty already, so don’t overdo the seasoning.
Transfer to an ovenproof casserole pan or similar, sprinkle half the breadcrumbs on top and bake for about 1 hour or so. After that time, stir in the crumbs that should be browning on the surface, taste for salt and pepper, and check the moisture level. You want there to be some liquid just below the top of the chickpeas, so top up with a little water if it’s looking dry. Sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs evenly over top and continue baking for another hour or so or until well browned and pumpkin is tender. Serve hot.
Photography by Alan Benson