Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chickpea and Spinach Casserole

The other day I was in the mood for chickpeas - which is actually pretty much every day - but I was also feeling a little lazy. So, of course, I made a casserole. It's hard to find vegetarian casseroles that have a good amount of protein - and that aren't overloaded with carbs. This one turns out to fit the criteria pretty well, full of fresh chickpeas, hearty spinach, and ever-useful cottage cheese. I took a recipe that I found on the web and altered it quite a bit - so this is almost a recipe of my own. There are a few things I would do differently next time but I'll include them below.

Sorry, this is a picture of the pre-baked casserole. Sometimes you just are a little too hungry when everything is done and forget to take a picture before it gets eaten up. I know, terrible.

Serves 3 to 4

Chickpea-Spinach Casserole

Adapted from

~ 2 1/2 C cooked chickpeas or ~1 1/2 cans
~ 1/2 C cooked brown or wild rice 

2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks (See sugested changes)
1 heaping tsp dried rosemary

1 large egg, beaten 
1/2 cup cottage cheese 
1/2 C plain yogurt (for ONCE, I tell you: not Greek style)
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
juice and zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Sesame seeds* and Parmesan cheese (to top)

*The original recipe called for breadcrumbs, but my dad loves sesame seeds and they add more crunch and nutrition so I went with them instead. If you are completely against sesame seeds, breadcrumbs work too.

Suggested Additions and Changes for Next Time:

1. Add two medium carrots, cut into chunks, to the step with the shallots etc.
2. I decided to add celery to the recipe, and I am glad I did. Just one thing I will do differently next time: I finely diced the celery to match the shallots but I think it would be better just cut into 1/4-inch slices
3. I can't stop considering the addition of mushrooms to add a bit of texture and creaminess at the same time. If you do, try about 8 oz, sliced. I might considering cooking them a bit before mixing them with the rest of the casserole too. Just a thought...

First thing's first: cook your chickpeas and rice. You want them cooked and out of the way by the time you are ready to assemble the casserole.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and celery (and perhaps carrots...maybe mushrooms too) and cook them slowly so that they become soft and fragrant, for about 7 minutes. Add in the rosemary and cook for another minute or so. Let the mixture cool a bit.

Mix together the egg, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, and Parmesan in a large bowl. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper to taste. (Except don't actually taste it...raw egg - that's gross)

Add the chickpeas, rice, and parsley and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased baking dish. As usual, the dimensions and shape of the dish are flexible. I used an oval shaped dish with area probably equivalent to an 8-by-8 square dish.

Evenly spread the mixture into the dish then sprinkle the top with the lemon zest, a nice layer of Parmesan, and a good amount of sesame seeds (a tablespoon or two)

Bake it at 375° F for about half an hour, until the top being to brown. Enjoy!

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