Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vegetarian Cassoulet

So for some reason I've been thinking a lot about detox lately. Now I know at least for us New Englanders Spring (the season of internal/ external detox!) is far from having sprung, and it is still quite cold (lets talk about 5 degrees last night). I suppose that is why I created a vegetarian version of a wonderful stick-to-your-ribs french dish cassoulet, but added some wonderful, delicious detoxing dandelion greens! Essentially what they do is stimulate bile production from your liver, which in turn flushes out many of the toxins that are accumulating there as well as promotes paristalsis...I suppose lets just call that the intestinal elimination of said toxins. If you'd like, you can read more about dandelion greens on this post that I wrote about a year back (god, actually exactly one year back...talk about synchronicity!) This dish also has wonderful rosemary to support the circulatory system, parsely for loads of vitamin c and its heavy metal detox qualities, thyme for its lovely antimicrobial properties and tons of yummy beans and veggies for fiber, nutrients and vitamins! Oh yeah, and all of the above for their *phenomenal* flavors!

Now traditionally, cassoulet is prepared with bacon or some sort of pork, sausage, or duck. Obviously that won't happen here, but I must say I really don't think it needs the meat at all! The mixture of vegetables, fresh herbs, and the lovely little white gems we call cannelini beans creates such a sublime stew that nothing else is needed except your ravenous appetite, and maybe a nice slice of bread on the side if you're extra hungry. The other great aspect of this recipe is that it makes a lot. I like to make it at the beginning of the week, and then just reheat it throughout whenever I don't have the time or feel like cooking. It really is a wonderful, cost-effective, delicious, healthy and hearty meal that will please anyone you give it to, I'm certain.

Vegetarian Cassoulet
16 ounces dried cannelini, great northern, or any other small white bean, soaked in water for around 6-10 hours and then drained

2 large leeks, thoroughly cleaned (there tends to be a lot of grit between all those layers!), halved and sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
5 small-medium carrots, chopped into large diagonal slices
1 cup dandelion greens, stems trimmed off bottom and sliced thinly
1.5 cups halved cherry tomatoes
vegetable broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary, stem removed and chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed and chopped
3 tbs chopped fresh parsely
2 bay leaves
olive oil
3 tbs whole wheat flour

1. Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in the bottom on a large pot. Add the leaks and garlic and sautee until soft and starting to become transluscent and fragrant.
2. Add the flour (if mixture becomes clumpy add a touch more oil). Add the carrots and tomato and sautee for a minute longer.
3. Add the soaked beans, then pour in the vegetable broth so that it completely covers the beans by about 1 inch of liquid. Stir the pot a few times, then add the dandelion greens and all of the herbs.
4. Let the cassoulet simmer for about an hour or so, it may take shorter or longer depending on how long you soaked your beans. Stir occasionally, and taste test every once in a while to see when your beans are soft and cooked through, and the broth has become nice and thick, almost gravy-like.
5. Salt and pepper to taste, serve up and enjoy!

Health Benefits!!
White Beans- High in protein and fiber, they contain molybdenum which helps detoxify the body, high in zinc, copper, magnesium, and contain skin-protecting antioxidants.
Garlic-Contains allicin, an incredibly medicinal component, especially in raw garlic (like in this recipe!) Allicin can help prevent high blood pressure, aid in digestion, aid in inflammation reduction, help prevent and cure cold, and much much more!
Thyme- a respiratory and digestive aid, thyme is an expectorant meaning it is helpful in treating coughs and colds, and may help relieve menstrual cramps
Rosemary- Antioxidant, antiseptic and antispasmodic, has been shown to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer's disease due to certain phytochemicals it contains, camphor within rosemary helps circulation, can help prevent abdominal cramps through stimulating the release of bile.
Parsely- Wow, who knew that half a cup of parsely has more vitamin C than not only an orange, but a lemon?? Parsely's volatile oils have also been shown to help prevent the formation of lung tumors, and also acts as a general "chemoprotective" food that neutralizes many types of toxins we may take in daily. Parsely is also a good source of folic acid and B vitamins. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, parlsey has also been shown to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Shame on whoever made this wonderful herb into a simple garnish!
Carrots- contain beta-carotene, great for your eyesight. High levels of antioxidants may help prevent cancer, high in vitamin A, may decrease risk of heart problems, and may help reduce cholesterol levels due to their richness in fiber
Grape Tomatoes- High in folate, vitamin C and vitamin A, and potassium. They are high in antioxidants and have also been shown to help prevent certain types of cancers when a few servings are eaten per day.
Dandelion-leaves and root contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon. They are remarkable for detoxing the body as their slightly bitter taste stimulates the production of bile in the liver, causing it to cleanse itself and the intestines.
Leeks- similar to their onion cousins, leeks contain a high amount of allacin which helps promote both circulation and immunity. High levels of folate in one of its most bioactive forms are present in leeks, and they also help to prevent oxidative damage to our lovely little red blood cells and to reduce inflammation.

The A to Z Guide to Healing Herbal Remedies, Jason Elias and Selagh Ryan Masline

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