The food trend list is not nearly as exciting as the list of movies up for awards, but for those of us in the business and those of us who LOVE to eat, this is important stuff. Here it goes foodies…the list for 2011:

So cupcakes are dead and pie is the new ….well, cupcake! Kumquats are the new pomegranate and vegetables, especially root vegetables are the new meat (I called that one last year). Kale is the new hottie in the sauté pan AND the salad bowl and not eating meat once a week is all the rage.

While I am not sure that the cupcake is really dead, who could resist the Lilliputian decorated delicacy? I nevertheless completely embrace Meatless Mondays. Most of us eat too much meat and with the current movement/trend to cut back on eating meat and all of the stress on the planet that cattle cause, not to mention the economy and everyone trying to cut back, I am all for the weekly dairy or vegetarian meal.

The vegetarian cassoulet is rich, hearty and very earthy. All of the steps to prepare the cassoulet can be done the night before. Very delicious and very trendy:

Vegetarian Cassoulet

1 cup dried Navy beans, soaked overnight in the refrigerator and drained

1 medium Spanish onion, diced

2 leeks, white part only, sliced thinly

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped or 1 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes with their juices (broken up with your hands)

4 cups vegetable stock or water

2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard

2 carrots, diced

1 large fennel bulb, diced

2 parsnips, diced

Bouquet garni of: Several sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley stems tied with kitchen twine

½ cup panko style breadcrumbs or other crispy breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the onion in a medium sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil until the onion is caramelized and very brown (about 5 minutes). Lower the heat to medium and add the leek and the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes until the leeks are very soft. Transfer the onion to the slow cooker or Dutch oven.
  2. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours in the slow cooker or for 3 hours in a covered Dutch oven until the beans are soft but still holding their shape. 

Toss the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cassoulet. Serve in a bowl with your favorite salad and toasted baguette.

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here.

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