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Pumpkin Cassoulet with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Garlic

White beans, tender squash and savory onions bake under a crisp blanket of garlic bread crumbs in this spectacular meatless main dish. You can roast the garlic, caramelize the onions and even assemble the cassoulet the day before you plan to serve it. Feel free to substitute another orange-fleshed squash like kabocha or butternut for the pumpkin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic heads
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cans (each 14 1/2 oz.) cannellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 lb. baking pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Cut the garlic heads in half crosswise and wrap the halves together in a piece of aluminum foil. Bake until the garlic cloves are soft, about 45 minutes. Cool, then squeeze the cloves from the cut halves into a bowl, discarding the papery skins. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring, until they soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in a tablespoon of water if necessary to keep the onions from sticking. Stir in the beans, pumpkin, broth, thyme, salt, pepper and reserved garlic.

Cover and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 1 hour. In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, cheese and the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Uncover the cassoulet (or, if desired, transfer to individual ovenproof serving dishes) and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the top. Return the cassoulet to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the bread crumbs are browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).