Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet
This delicious recipe brings together so many of my favourite things. Sticky roasted tomatoes, the soothing creaminess of coconut milk and sweet little white beans, topped with a crust of sourdough bread. Don’t be put off by the coconut milk – it adds a gentle creamy note and brings everything together (the rest can be frozen and used in a curry another day).
If fresh tomatoes are not at their best, a second tin of chopped tomatoes will do just fine. In the winter I swap the basil for some thyme too. I like to cook my own beans, but I sometimes use a decent jar of Spanish cooked beans – tinned will work too, but I find the jarred ones are cooked with more care.
I love sourdough bread. If you haven’t tried it before, search it out. It’s made from a natural fermented starter dough. When I worked as a baker I loved that someone topped it up every couple of days and kept it alive. Because of the starter it’s actually easier for our bodies to digest. So everyone’s a winner.
1 leek, washed, trimmed and roughly sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
a 1cm thick piece of fresh ginger, the size of a 50p piece, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 × 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons coconut milk
1 × 400g jar haricot beans, drained, or 1 × 400g tin, drained
500g vine or cherry tomatoes, halved
a bunch of fresh basil
4 slices of sourdough bread
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.
First heat an ovenproof pan on a medium heat and add a slosh of olive oil. Throw in the leeks, garlic, chilli and ginger and a pinch of salt and some pepper, then turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes, until the leeks are soft and sweet. Next, add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and beans and simmer for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat. Check the seasoning, and add a little more salt and pepper if needed.
Scatter over the fresh tomatoes, followed by the basil, then tear the slices of bread into chunks and push them into the gaps between the tomatoes. You are looking for a covering of tomatoes and chunks of bread.
Drizzle the lot with olive oil and pop it into the oven for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have shrunk and sweetened and the bread is crisp and golden. Allow to sit for a few minutes before piling on to plates with lemony green salad.
Image: Brian W Ferry