This vegan delicata squash cassoulet with roasted garlic is packed with all the warm and cozy goodness of traditional French cassoulet. Perfect as a meatless main for the holidays!
Two weeks from today, I will be hopping off a plane in France to spend Christmas with my family. Woohoo!
France has played an important role in influencing my career in nutrition and shaping my eating philosophy. My very first foodie memories of really loving food were from my first trip to France when I was six. I vividly remember chasing down the cheese cart at a nice restaurant because I was dying for another piece of creamy camembert. Since then, cheese has been to me what coffee is to the Gilmores. And it was this love of good food that initially inspired me to go into a career in dietetics.
More recently, when I went to France a few years ago and noticed the pure joy people experienced while eating, I had the aha moment that allowed me to finally put together all the little pieces and cohesively form my food philosophy. Before then, while I practiced and taught both intuitive and mindful eating, I viewed enjoying food as important for maintaining healthy eating habits. Make nutritious food taste delicious and you’ll easily maintain healthy eating habits. But during that trip, it clicked that finding pleasure of eating was just as important as the nutrition of what you eat for overall health. That a croissant with butter could be just as healthy as a kale salad and green juice.
The French paradox is the term used to describe the fact that the French eat this very saturated fat diet, with foods like butter, cheese, and croissants consumed on the daily, yet have lower rates of heart disease, a better quality of life and longer life. Scientists often point to red wine as the reason, because who doesn’t want an excuse to drink more red wine, but I believe it has more to do with how the French think about food than what food they eat. It’s the joyful eating that makes them healthy.
One of my favorite dishes we had the last time we were in France was cassoulet, the famous dish of slow cooked white beans with different types of meat, usually sausage and duck. We stayed in the region where cassoulet originated, so whenever we went out to eat, at least one of us would order cassoulet so we could taste test and compare to see which restaurant’s was tastiest.
While this roasted garlic and delicata squash cassoulet is by no means traditional, it still has all the same comforts – rich flavor, stewy consistency and an abundance of nourishing carbs. And the mushrooms add a little meaty flavor! It’s also super budget friendly, making enough to serve 8. I would freeze a few extra portions to pull out on a busy night.
Enjoy this as a vegan main, perfect for holiday entertaining, or as a side dish along with roasted chicken. If you’d like to use this recipe to feed meat lovers, feel free to add sausage, chicken thighs or bacon. I’m thinking a chicken apple sausage would be especially delish here with all the fall flavors.
What are your favorite comforting dishes for winter? Leave a comment below!
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- 1 head garlic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 2 large delicata squash, halved, seeds scooped out, and chopped into 1 inch chunks
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1½ cups whole grain panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the papery outer skin from the garlic without peeling or separating the cloves. Rub the head of garlic with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap with foil and place in the oven to roast for an hour. Once cool enough to handle, separate the cloves and squeeze the soft, caramelized garlic pulp into a bowl.
- Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots, season with salt and black pepper and saute until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute 5 minutes until mushrooms start to lose their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add squash, broth, thyme and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes, until squash is mostly tender.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir in white beans and season with salt and pepper. Mix panko with parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the top of the cassoulet.
- Cover the cassoulet, place in the oven and bake 45 minutes. Serve hot.