2 tbsp of olive oil + extra
1 red onion – chopped
1 large leek – top and tailed, washed, split lengthways and finely sliced
1 large carrot – skin on, washed, top and tailed, finely diced
2 celery sticks – finely sliced
2 clove of garlic – finely grated
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of dried thyme + extra
1 tsp or ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6 merguez sausages
400g tin of haricot beans
50g red split lentils
250ml of stock of your choice – we used chicken
2 slices of bread (stale works!)
Fine sea salt and cracked black pepper
In a large saucepan on a high heat, fry off the sausages and brown in a little oil. Remove from the pan and place to one side on a plate.
To the same pan add the oil and cook off the vegetables and garlic for 10–15 mins on a medium heat.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, spices and mix through. Cook for two minutes. Use half the quantities of the spices if you’re cooking for people with milder tastes!
Slice up the sausages into rounds and add back to the pan, along with the haricot beans, and mix through.
Add the passata, stock, and lentils. Mix well.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat slightly. Leave uncovered to gently bubble away for 25–30 mins or until reduced. You want it to be quite thick. Season as required with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile blitz up two slices of bread in a food processor with a drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt, pepper and dried thyme. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking tray and place under the grill on a medium heat. Keep an eye on it as it will burn otherwise; turn occasionally and cook until the breadcrumbs are golden and crunchy.
Transfer the cassoulet to a nice dish, top with breadcrumbs and serve. Alternatively, serve the cassoulet and top with breadcrumbs individually.