Photo: Kelly Rossiter
There was a bit of eye rolling from my husband when I said I was making a chickpea casserole. That's probably because he remembers casseroles from his childhood, as do I. They were usually gloppy affairs with one of the main ingredients a canned cream soup.
Cream of celery soup was the usual choice for my mother, who then added canned tuna and cooked macaroni. It remains one of her favourite meals to this day, and some forty years on, the thought of it still makes me gag. This casserole, I'm happy to say, bore no resemblance at all to the concoctions my mother made, and my husband actually thought it was great.Although this recipe takes a bit of time to cook, it takes very little time to put together. This is a great bonus, because casseroles are often time consuming affairs, their greatest benefit being that you can make them ahead and then just slip it into the oven when you are ready. This makes enough for a crowd, so I divided it by a third for the two of us, and there was still lots left over.
My only complaint about this was that it was a bit on the dry side. I think covering it with foil for the first half hour might solve that problem, or even cooking it at 350F rather than 375F. If you want to add a vegetable to it, something like spinach or swiss chard would be wonderful with this.
It had a bit of a tangy taste from the yogurt and lemon, and you could enhance that by adding some marinated artichokes as well. Even some pitted black olives would be an interesting addition. Although shallots are in the recipe name, I didn't have any and I substituted a leek, which worked just fine.
Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs and Shallots
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 bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9x13-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 bread crumbs. (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.