Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs and Shallots  Recipe
Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs and Shallots

By Faith Durand

A Casserole Recipe Done Light

This recipe is perhaps the perfect expression of what I love about casseroles. It's quick and easy -- a modern, lightened-up version of a "dump-and-mix" dish, where you open up a few cans and mix everything together. But it also has fresh flavors, lighter dairy and -- the best part -- no pasta. Instead, protein-rich, toothsome chickpeas take center stage.

It's a meatless vegetarian dish, bright with lemon zest and herbs. It gets finished off with a crunchy, olive oil-drizzled crust of Parmesan and breadcrumbs. It's creamy inside, crisp on top. But it leaves out old-fashioned canned soups and all those heaps of cheese and cream. Instead, low-fat yogurt and some cottage cheese bind the casserole together.

The casserole reheats beautifully. It is often my go-to lunch; I love it with a good green salad and some crisp white wine for dinner, too. It's very satisfying; those chickpeas make for a more filling meal than pasta or rice. But with its herbed and lemony creaminess, it also makes a great side dish for roasted chicken or grilled pork chops.

Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs and Shallots Recipe

Reprinted from "Not Your Mother's Casseroles," by Faith Durand (Harvard Common Press, January 2011)

Serves 6 to 8

Three (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 5 cups cooked chickpeas

1 cup cooked brown rice

4 large shallots, minced or grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup cottage cheese, ideally the small curd variety of cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 stalks fresh rosemary (leaves only)

2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs

Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly grease a 9- by 13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas with the rice, shallots, garlic, and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Mix the beaten eggs in a medium bowl with the cottage cheese, yogurt and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Finely mince the parsley and fresh rosemary leaves. Stir the cottage cheese mixture and herbs into the chickpea mixture.

4. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the breadcrumbs. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


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