Mixed bean and red wine cassoulet

It’s getting chilly. We’re now officially into Autumn, and for once the weather seems to be matching up with the season – the trees are transforming into a spectrum of oranges, reds and browns, and there are so many spiders in our house that I’m tempted to keep a spider-trapping-glass next to my bed. It’s the time of year when I start to think longingly about hearty, slow-cooked wonders: pies, stews, crumbles, cobbler. This is one such dish.

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I’m tentatively calling it a cassoulet – it was originally my Aunt’s recipe (she called it a casserole), which I’ve tweaked somewhat. Whatever you call it, for me it’s a perfect Autumn meal.

Ingredients (serves 6):
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 4 cloves garlic, crushed
– 2 carrots, finely chopped
– 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
– 150g tomato purée
– 500ml red wine
– 500ml vegetable stock
– 4x 400g tins beans (I use 2 borlotti and 2 cannellini)
– handful spinach, chopped
– 5cm sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
– salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the onion, garlic, carrots and celery into a large saucepan with a generous knob of butter (or a splash of olive oil, to keep it vegan), and cook on a medium heat for ten minutes.

2. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further 8 minutes, before adding the wine, stock and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks.

3. Add the beans and spinach, and season. Cook for a further ten minutes (with the lid off), then serve with a few good hunks of bread.

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If possible, I prefer to make this in advance up until the middle of step three (so the beans etc are added, but there’s no further cooking until you want to eat it). I think if it’s given a while to itself the flavours develop and infuse better, but it does depend on what time you have.

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