Served with salad and crusty whole-grain bread, this makes a tasty and substantial meal. If you want to impress your guests, add the toasted bread crumbs – a great way to use up day-old bread.
Entertaining Worthy, Vegan Friendly, Can Be Halved (See Tips)
Equipment: Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker
Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs: (optional)
3 tbsp butter or olive oil (45 mL) 1 tbsp minced garlic (15 mL) 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (500 mL) (see Tips)
1. In a bowl, combine dried mushrooms with hot water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Pat mushrooms dry and chop finely. Set mushrooms and soaking liquid aside, separately.
2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, parsnips and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns and reserved dried mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil.
3. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add cremini mushrooms and beans and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly. Garnish with parsley.
Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs, optional:
4. For 2 cups (500 mL) bread crumbs, use about 3 slices from a large loaf, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut each slice into quarters and process in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, until the crumbs are the size of split peas, about 40 seconds. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper and pulse to combine. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add garlic and stir well. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over cassoulet.
If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (2 to 3-1/2 quart) slow cooker.
For added depth of flavor, add a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary along with the garlic. Use the whole stem. The leaves will fall off during cooking and the stem can be discarded before serving.
Make Ahead: Complete Steps 1 and 2. Cover and refrigerate mixture for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete the recipe.