Here’s a little tidbit about me: I love casseroles. I love the idea of casseroles, I love the presentation of casseroles, I love eating casseroles. I even love to collect nice, vintage casserole dishes. I think I just have a fascination with putting things in the oven “unfinished” and then having them come out all nice and warm and whole. It’s like magic! I think this is where my obsession with lasagna comes from.
It’s been a long time since I’ve made a casserole. Recently, I decided to get into the habit of eating more beans, and I particularly enjoy firm beans for their texture — kidney beans in particular. So, I wanted to make a hearty bean casserole, like a stew, except less soupy. And I wanted it to have a certain kind of jambalaya-esque flavor and tone about it so, it appears seitan sausage and okra was in order!
This recipe is heavy, but in a good way. It fed me for a week too. If you had any doubts about vegans never being able to “get full” or eat more than just wimpy salads, this will prove you very, very wrong. Like I said, the flavor of this casserole is reminiscent of a jumbalaya. If you want more kick, just add more cayenne pepper. I think it’s fine without, but I’m also kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy food. I really like how easy this was to make and how much food it made. I’ll be making it again soon when I want something hearty and satisfying but without all the fuss. To break up the procedure, I made the sausages in advance, the night before, but you can make them an hour before starting the casserole.
4 Cajun Seitan Sausages, chopped 2 in. thick, horizontally
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
9 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 and 1/2 cups vegan bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 and 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 cups okra (I used frozen and ready chopped)
1 cup chard, loosely packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
In a 5.5 quart saucepan on medium heat, heat the oil, onion, and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add the red bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, water, thyme, and wine. Bring to a boil. Add the beans and the spices and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, stir in 2 cups of the bread crumbs, the okra, chard, and sausages. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon this mixture into a 3 quart glass casserole dish and top with remaining bread crumbs. You can sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, if desired.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh sage, if desired, and serve.