Chickpea casserole with lemon, herbs, and shallots (6-8 servings)

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As I was planning out this week's meals, I realized that a huge percentage of my main dish recipes involve chickpeas. I've already posted 13 recipes involving chickpeas, and I have lots more than I haven't yet posted. Chickpeas are so versatile and they pack a great protein punch. So when I saw this recipe on the Kitchn the other week, I knew I had to try it out.  This recipe comes from Faith Durand's Not Your Mother's Casseroles, which I'd love to read sometime. I changed the temperature and baked the casserole covered for part of the time, going off readers' suggestions. I also added more rice for bulk and some broth for moisture.

You will need:

  • 3 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 4 shallots, minced or grated (or ground up in a food processor - yay!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (food processor again)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (small curd if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 stalks rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
  • 2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • extra-virgin olive oil (opt.)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spritz a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Add the chickpeas, rice, shallots, garlic, and lemon zest and juice to a large bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, broth, and half the parmesan. Mix in the parsley and rosemary. Add the egg mixture to the chickpea mixture in the large bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining parmesan and the bread crumbs. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if desired. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes. The casserole should be bubbly and golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

There are so many wonderful things about this recipe. As the Kitchn's writer states, "It's quick and easy -- a modern, lightened-up version of the 'dump-and-mix' dish, where you can open up a few cans and mix everything together." But, as the writer points out, it doesn't rely on predictable ingredients like pasta or cream of mushroom soup. I loved the combination of the tender chickpeas and the custardy, creamy filling. The lemon worked really well with the other flavors. This is another bright, flavorful dish that works well for the transition from winter to spring. Serve it with a big ol' spinach salad and you'll be full for hours!

A word about shallots: I don't know much about them and they tend to annoy me. I love their mellow, slightly sweet flavor, but they frustrate me. First of all, peeling them is a pain in the arse. They're much worse than garlic or onions. Also, when the recipe calls for four of them, I don't know if that means four "bulbs," which might contain more than one "clove" (for lack of a better description) or if that means four "cloves," which could only be two or three "bulbs." Ugh. I found two big ones -- almost the size of a tangerine -- at Whole Foods and used both. The end result wasn't overpowering, so I guess that was a good choice!