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GardenSMART :: Simple Food Gratifies

Simple Food Gratifies

By Tommy C. Simmons, an enthusiastic cook
Photograph by Tommy C. Simmons

Our Lake Arrowhead neighbor Iris Smith is a fabulous cook. She likes trying different recipes and enjoys researching the origins of the new dishes she discovers. Recently, Iris shared a recipe for a Three-Bean Cassoulet with Cornmeal Dumplings, which she found on

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Inexpensive to make, Three-Bean Cassoulet with Cornmeal Dumplings will become a comfort food favorite.

A cassoulet is a slow-cooked casserole originating in France, containing beans, meat or sausage and vegetables. It was a common man's staple in the French province of Languedoc and according to legends, many families kept a cassoulet simmering on the stove year in and year out for decades.

Iris's husband loved Southern Living magazine's cassoulet version and said it reminded him of a dish his grandmother in Mississippi would make.

My family has always enjoyed bean-rich casseroles and we often make variations to use up odds and ends from the freezer and refrigerator. When I tried the Three-Bean Cassoulet, I substituted lady peas for the black-eyed peas and omitted the ham. I've also added a handful of chopped collards, when available.

Here is the original recipe:

Home kitchen-tested recipe

Three-Bean Cassoulet with Cornmeal Dumplings

Serves 6 to 8. Recipe is from, January 2016.

1 cup sliced carrots
½ cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 tbl. olive oil
2 tsps. minced garlic
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cooked cubed ham
1 (16-oz.) pkg. frozen baby lima beans
1 (16-oz.) pkg. frozen butter peas
1 cup frozen black-eyed peas
1 (32-oz.) container reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsps. finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp. table salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cornmeal Dumplings:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbls. cold butter, cubed
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2/3 cup buttermilk

  1. Prepare Cassoulet: Sauté carrots and onion in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
  2. Add ham and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in lima beans, butter peas, black-eyed peas, chicken broth, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare Dumplings: Whisk together flour and cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper in a medium bowl.
  4. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in rosemary; add buttermilk, and stir just until dough is moistened.
  5. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls ½ to 1 inch apart into simmering bean mixture. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until Dumplings are done and dry to the touch. Serve immediately.

Testing note: To add richness to the Dumplings, I substituted 2 tablespoons chive and onion-seasoned 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread for some of the buttermilk. You have to use just enough buttermilk to bind the dough.


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