Eating for Life | Cassoulet is a healthier twist on a French tradition

Updated: 2011-11-09T00:42:40Z


The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: This column was originaly published in the Feb. 14, 2007, Food section.

A traditional French cassoulet could never be misconstrued as diet fare.

The white bean stew made from sausages, pork and preserved duck or goose is undeniably tasty but rarely recommended for light eating.

Cassoulet is also a bit of chore to prepare, requiring the duck confit be made at least a week in advance. But The Star’s version of Winter Chicken and White Bean Cassoulet is as easy on the waistline as it is convenient to prepare.

Substituting chicken breast is a lean option, especially when the skin is removed. But we recommend starting with bone-in breast with skin halves rather than boneless skinless breasts because anything cooked with bone and skin will render a richer flavor.

The size of a lima bean, Great Northern beans add flavor and fiber to the dish. They also are typically grown in the Midwest.

Finally, the flavoring ingredients have been tweaked to heighten the dish’s nutrition profile: Fennel is rich in vitamin A and a good source of potassium, calcium and phosphorous; sun-dried tomatoes provide a tart tang and plenty of the antioxidant lycopene; and a splash of orange juice adds flavor with a dose of vitamin C, just the antidote to cold winter days.

Shopping tip: Fennel has an ivory bulb with a feathery green top. In supermarkets it is often incorrectly labeled sweet anise. Although it can be served raw, when cooked it has a very mild licorice flavor. You may also use the feathery tops as you would any fresh herb.

Preparation tip: Tempted to substitute canned beans for the dry? Convenience comes at a cost, in this case excess sodium. While the fiber content is the same, canned beans that have been rinsed still contain more sodium than dry. Soaking beans isn’t difficult; it simply requires planning.

To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, call 816-234-4347 or send email to

Deal Saver Subscribe today!


The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here