Thursday, July 13, 2006

Test-Driving my new Le Creuset

Early this year, I made a resolution to stock my kitchen with better cookware. One of the items high on my list was a heavy-duty cast-iron casserole. A few weeks ago, my friend Laureen stopped by, and came bearing a wedding gift in a big old heavy box. She must be a mind-reader, because that box contained my object of desire: a le creuset casserole, in the cutest yellow-tomato shape (complete with a realistic stem-like lid). creuset1

For someone who likes to cook and has been doing it for a while, I feel like I have a very poor understanding of cookware. Much of it stems from the fact that (a) I cook in a *tiny* kitchen with limited space for pots and pans, and (b) when I stocked my kitchen 5 years ago, I was under a tight budget and ended up getting one run-of-the-mill cookware set and then just using that for years. So I am starting to educate myself a little bit on cookware, and it turns out that cast-iron cookware is made by pouring molten iron into a mold (a centuries-old method of making cooking pots). The Le creuset variety is then coated with a layer of enamel, which means it does not require "seasoning" like regular cast iron pots do. The wonderful thing about cast iron pots is that they are nothing if not sturdy, so I totally expect to take good care of my little tomato and have it last a lifetime.

I searched around for a recipe to try in this pot, and came across one in a recent issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. It sounded like a delicious recipe (vegan to boot) and uses carrots (which I tend to under-use) and rubbed sage (a new addition to my spice rack). This recipe was part of an article on carrot recipes; I am dying to try out a carrot cake which was also published in the same article.

Tofu-Carrot Cacciatore

(adapted from "Vegetarian Times" magazine, serves 4-5)
1 bunch fresh carrots, peeled and cut into slices on a bias
1 green pepper, cut into large dice
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz package Italian-style baked tofu, cubed
1 28-oz can tomatoes (crushed or whole peeled)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bayleaf
1 tbsp rubbed sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 and half cups dried pasta (your favorite shape)
1. Heat the olive oil. Saute onions and garlic till transluscent and aromatic.
2. Add the carrots, peppers and bayleaf and saute for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, sage, tofu, salt and pepper and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per package directions. Serve the cacciatore over the hot pasta.

I was very impressed with the way this stew turned out. The le creuset casserole browns veggies just beautifully. It held heat for a really long time and was a snap to clean. Thanks, Laureen, I will be thinking of you every single time I use this beautiful pot!


  1. I love your yellow tomato Le Crueset casserole pan. I have the pumpkin and green pepper casserole pans, both were Christmas gifts. Le Crueset makes such nice cookware.

  2. Cast iron is very brittle -- it doesn't like to be dropped. We tend to think that heavy metal things must be very sturdy, but it depends on which stress we subject them to....

  3. I love your new Le Creuset casserole. I'm sure you are going to really emjoy it.

  4. Your cassrole looks good and so does your Cacciatore.

  5. Ahh. It's adorable! Such a festive color, too.


  6. Arent you one lucky girl :-) I have been slowly switching to cast iron myself, started with Lodge pans though. Its amazing what a difference they make to dosas/ rotis et al.
    Dont you get the feeling that grandmas were right after all? We are so surely going to go back to their kitchen ways!!!

  7. Hi Nupur,
    Congratulations on your cute/new Le Creuset casserole. I had this cacciatore recipe for a while, but couldnt find Italian style tofu. In our grocery store, they only have the regular tofu. Do you buy them in a specialty market?

  8. It is a great lookin' le crueset there. Until now, everytime I saw a sale on Le Crusets I always backed off because of the same reason you mentioned - the tiny kitchen. Now that I am moving, I can afford to buy these fancy cookware :). Cannot wait :)...

  9. Nupur, Lot of us have very little knowledge about good cookware.. and mostly its the price that keeps us away from it.. Its a good thing that you have started writing about it.Also if possible we would love to see the pics of your lovey *tiny* kitchen where you churn out these gourmet dishes and how you mange to store these pots and pans

  10. That is One Cute Casserole! And the cacciatore looks very tasty in it.

  11. Hi Vegan diva, I have not seen the pumpkin but the green pepper is such an adorable shape too! They do make the cutest gift ever.

    Hi I need orange, Thanks for pointing that out. I shall be careful not to drop it.

    Kalyn, I hope I can come up with lots of recipes to cook in it!

    Krithika, thanks :)

    Elise, I loved the sunny color too...really brightens up the table.

    Hi Ashwini, lodge pans are my next buy. I might mail you for some advice if that is OK.

    Pavani, personally, I feel like the dish is so flavorful that regular tofu would work *just* fine instead of the flavored. I found the baked tofu in the local health-food store.

    Luv2cook, hope you get a chance to get one soon :)

    Hi Eve, yes, I will put up pictures of the kitchen soon :) I know, nice cookware can be expensive. Which is why I am trying to save and then buy one piece at a time to slowly build up a collection.

    Thanks, Susan!

  12. Absolutely fine, only I dont know how good my 'advice' would be :-D

  13. hi nupur. the container , the content, and their owner are all truly amazing....great.....luv, yoma.

  14. Awwwww....she is so beautiful.

  15. hey nupur,

    your yellow tomato Le Crueset casserole is very cute with the stew in it. I would love to see the pics of your tiny kitchen. :-)

  16. Your blogs have got tasty and delicious content. Umm...I like it...

    Esp, I liked the 'A to Z of Marathi food'

  17. Hi Nupur,
    I don't know how I managed to miss out on reading your wedding announcement, so sorry about that. Hope it's not too late for me to wish you and V a big CONGRATS on your wedding! :) Welcome to the club. How's married life so far?

    Love the tomato Le Creuset! It was really thoughtful of Laureen to get you such a cute and useful gem.

  18. Ashwini, thanks :) I'll be mailing you soon...

    Yoma, RP...thanks!

    Sowjanya, I'll be moving to a new city (and a bigger kitchen) in a few months, so I'll post pics then :)

    Harshad, I'm glad you liked it!

    Julia, so nice to see you here! Thanks for all the good wishes!

  19. What kind of "adaptations" did you make? I made this recipe from the magazine and loved it, but no longer have the magazine. Is it pretty close to the original?


  20. Love your beautiful new pot! I've been adding Le Creuset pots, one each year, to my own kitchen batterie de cuisine. Your yellow tomato casserole will last a lifetime. Enjoy it!


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