Ready time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large shallots, sliced thinly
2 ribs celery, in small dice
1 small turnip, peeled and in small dice
2 parsnips, peeled and in small dice
4 cups dried navy beans that have been soaked in water overnight (2 cups dry presoak)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 bunch red baby beets, with tops
2 to 3 Chioggia and/or golden baby beets, without tops
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat half the oil in a large ovenproof saucepan. Add half the shallots, the celery, the turnip and the parsnips and sauté for about 10 minutes.
Drain beans well and add to pan. Sauté for a moment to coat with oil and mix with vegetables. Add broth and water, cover and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until beans and vegetables are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed. (If liquid is already absorbed at this point, add an additional ½ cup water.) Stir, remove lid and cook 20 minutes longer to allow beans and vegetables to brown slightly on top.
Meanwhile, remove tops from red beets. Trim stems and discard. Wash greens very well, chop coarsely and set aside. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Using a sharp knife, peel 4 baby beets of mixed colours. Starting with the lightest coloured beets, simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Red beets should be done last. When cool enough to handle, slice beets into circles.
Heat remaining olive oil in a small saucepan. Add remaining shallot rings and fry until crispy (about 2 minutes). Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and blot on kitchen towel. Reserve oil.
Remove beans from oven and season with salt and pepper. While still hot, add beet greens and mix well. Serve cassoulet topped with sliced beets in different colours, crispy shallots, a bit of shallot oil and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar.