Gothamist Eating In: Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

Being very into wine but lacking the storage space and deep pockets to invest in a personal wine collection, Gothamist has become exceedingly skilled at tracking down great ready to drink wines for $25 or less.

That being said, we can’t help feeling ripped off when paying double the price for these ‘good finds’ when they make their way onto restaurant wine lists. We order them anyway, but somehow they taste better when they felt like a value.

Ivo & Lulu makes it onto virtually all Manhattan BYOB shortlists, mainly because they virtually have the best food of the bunch. After a recent binge at a few favorite wine shops earlier in the day, we were in the mood to give Ivo a whirl. The restaurant can be summed up in two words: little gem.

Ivo has a small and carefully constructed menu, basically due to the fact that the kitchen has got to be smallest we have ever seen. What takes the menu beyond average bistro food is the creativity put into most of the dishes. We've never seen whole grilled avocados stuffed with a spinach mousse (didn’t necessary work), sausages paired with a blueberry sauce, or anything like the ‘Coconut Cassoulet’ before. The cassoulet was inspiring because it basically thumbed its nose at the tried and true French classic – the typically heaping pile of meats was replaced with barely cooked fresh summer vegetables. There were beans, but they weren’t the star of the show as they would be in traditional cassoulet. The coconut sauce that held the veggies together was looser than a sauce but certainly not soupy (as a proper cassoulet should be), while a mild yet exotic nutmeg flavor permeated the dish and matched wonderfully with the roasted squash container in which the cassoulet was presented.

Great cooking is always based on the best of the season. Taking a hearty, cold weather and time consuming dish like cassoulet and creating a version featuring beautiful summer vegetables at their peak is perfect for one of our last Gothamist Recipes of the summer.

Gothamist Recipe 2004_09_food_lulufinalhoriz.jpg Summer Vegetable Cassoulet with corn, zucchini, a trio of fresh beans and coconut nutmeg milk

-- Joe DeSalazar

We’ve taken Ivo & Lulu’s Coconut Cassoulet idea and added more vegetables as well as a mixture of fresh beans that we found abundant in the market. The multiple varieties of beans add different elements to the dish – the favas are tender and creamy, the snap peas sweet and firm, while the haricots vert add a crunchy and fresh texture. Corn is important to the dish, as it lends a sweetness that works well with the coconut milk. We’d recommend choosing any other veggies you stumble upon in the market – get creative! You could also add sautéed shrimp, bacon, scallops or a starch like couscous or roasted potatoes.

The following recipe works as a main course for two. A small or simple salad would be a nice accompaniment to this dish.

Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two and allows for left over veggies. You can easily turn this into a meal for three or four with the amount of ingredients below.

1 can coconut milk (check the label and avoid varieties that have ingredients other than coconut milk)
1 bottle of whole nutmeg (pre-ground OK if necessary)
2 cloves garlic
1 green zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 ear of corn
one large handful of haricot vert green beans
about 15 whole sugar snap pea pods
about 10 whole fava bean pods
1 jar of roasted red peppers (or roast your own)
1 lemon, 1 lime
1 bunch rosemary
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 jar of crushed red pepper (optional)

Estimated cost of ingredients: $15 at Fairway

Shopping for the Ingredients
When choosing your favas, try and find the ones with the largest pods. Pick up the large pods and feel for the beans inside, trying to select the pods in which the beans feel the largest. The larger beans are plumper and easier to remove from the shell in one piece after you blanch them. An example of a large fava bean vs. a small is below.

When looking for roasted peppers, try and choose ones that are still a bit charred on the outside. This adds a nice flavor to the dish.


Preparing the Vegetables and Beans
The goal is to get all of your veggies prepped for sautéing/blanching. You can prepare these veggies up to a few hours before ready to sauté or blanch.

Take two whole red peppers from the jar and rinse and dry them to remove their marinating liquid. Slice each pepper into thin long strips and set aside.

Remove the husk and silks from the corn. Place corn ear on the cutting board and slice straight down the cob with a sharp knife to release the kernels. Repeat for all sides of corn and set aside. Reserve the cob, as you will use this for your sauce.

Rinse and dry the zucchini. Remove the tops and bottoms of each zucchini. Slice each in half lengthwise, then half these again lengthwise to ultimate create four long pieces from each zucchini. (Set half of each zucchini aside for another use if cooking for two people). Next, chop into about 1 inch thick pieces (thin pieces will get a little too wilted when sautéed) and set aside.

Finely chop both cloves of garlic.

Remove the fava beans from their pods. (keep separated from other beans as you’ll need to deal with them separately).


Take the ends off of the haricot vert beans with a paring knife. To do this quickly, take a pile of the beans and arrange them in a little stack so their ends are aligned. Slice them all off with one slice. Do this for the other side of the beans and the remaining pile, but check them to make sure you didn’t miss any of the ends.

Using a peeler, remove the skin from the lemon and lime in long thin strips. Take care to avoid getting any of the white pith from the rind, as it is bitter. Slice the rind into long thin strips.


Blanching the Beans
Fill a large pot with cold water. Add lots of kosher salt and stir. The water should be a bit cloudy with salt and taste like the sea. This is important for keeping the beans a vibrant green color.

While you the water begins to boil, set aside a large bowl with ice water. You are going to be taking beans from the boiling water and adding it to the ice bath to immediately stop cooking. This is called shocking. You will need to do this in two batches, as the favas need to be handled separately.

When violently boiling, add the haricot vert and the snap peas to the water. Place a cover on the pot to try and keep the water boiling. Cook for about four minutes, but take a bean out and taste it to see if it’s done. Look for firmness but make sure they are soft. You don’t want them soggy. Remove from water with a slotted spoon. Do not dump the water out, as you need to use it again. Place it back on the fire and continue to boil. Add the cooked beans to the ice bath and let rest for only two minutes (you do not want them to get soggy in the ice bath). Remove them from ice bath and set aside. Add more ice to the bowl for the favas.

Repeat this process for the fava beans, but the favas should only take about 3 minutes to cook.

When done with the favas, do not mix with the other beans as you need to remove their little ‘shells’. This is a pain but the shells are tough and not very pleasant to eat. With your fingernail, carefully puncture and rip off the top part of the shell while avoiding damaging the bean inside. Push the bean up from the bottom of the shell – the shell will naturally slip off. Do this for the rest of the beans and set aside.


Sauté the Veggies
Put a liberal glug of olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pan. Add chopped garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes and kosher salt. Place this on a medium high heat.

After one minute (when the garlic just begins to sizzle), add all of your chopped vegetables to the pan. Add a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the veggies in the pan so you don’t burn the garlic. Let sauté for four minutes. Try not to shake the pan or move the veggies until the very end of the process, as you want them to get browned a bit. The veggies should be pretty firm and relatively al dente when you are finished. Add a squeeze of lemon and lime juice and remove from the pan. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Keep this pan as you will make the sauce with it.


Make the Sauce
Place ¾ of the coconut milk in the pan. Add about four whole rosemary stalks, bay leaf and the chopped rind from the lemon and lime. Using a grater, grate the whole nutmeg into the milk. You want very little of it – about four or so passes on the grater will do the trick. Lastly, take the corn cob you reserved and with the back of a knife, scrape the knife upwards to get the natural corn milk juices from the cob and add to pan. Turn the heat on to medium high at this point.


Add a squeeze of lemon and lime juice, a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Turn the heat to low after it begins to boil and stir to make sure milk doesn’t burn or become lodged to the pan. Let this simmer on low heat for about 4 minutes. You are really only looking to thicken/reduce the milk by about ¼ and infuse the ingredients into it.

When finished, remove the whole rosemary stalks, bay leaf and rinds. You can do this with a little strainer or a slotted spoon. You can make this up to a few hours in advance or even a day before and reheat.

Finishing the Dish
Add the veggies and beans to the sauce in the pan. Let simmer for two minutes to let the flavors marry together briefly and warm the veggies through. Taste and check seasonings. Your sauce should be a bit soupy yet clinging to the veggies like a sauce. Sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary.

Place in a large bowl, trying to distribute the ingredients evenly. Serve warm.


-- Joe DeSalazar