This recipe from my new cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles, 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.
This is 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 I use some low-fat yogurt (so tasty and tangy!) and some cottage cheese to bind the casserole together.
I also love how pretty this casserole is when served up. When you scoop up this casserole you see the pink shallots, the green flecks of herbs, and of course the golden creaminess of cheese and chickpeas.
This reheats beautifully. It is often my go-to lunch, and 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.
I haven't frozen this particular dish, but I have no reason to think that it wouldn't freeze well.
This is my favorite kind of casserole! It's the ideal balance between hearty and comforting and wholesome and light. In testing it again though, I find myself wishing the center of the casserole was a touch creamier. This sentiment was echoed by some of you in the comments, who felt the casserole was on the dry side.
We made a slight tweak to the recipe, calling for a little extra yogurt plus some broth, which prevents dryness and makes for a creamier casserole. It's a small change, and makes a big difference without significantly changing the casserole. So if you've made it before and loved it, this will still give you the same wholesome, hearty result.
— Kelli, November 2018
Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs & Shallots
Serves 6 to 8
Prep time: 15 minutes to 20 minutes ; cooking time: 45 minutes
olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 (15-ounce) cans
chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 5 cups cooked chickpeas
cooked long-grain brown rice
large shallots, finely chopped
finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (from about 2 sprigs)
freshly ground black pepper
cottage cheese, preferably small curd
regular full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt; it has too little moisture)
low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch or 3-quart baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray; set aside.
Place the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small bowl and stir until the breadcrumbs are well-coated and slightly wet. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine; set aside.
Place the chickpeas, rice, shallots, garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, and stir to combine; set aside.
Place the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, broth, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the chickpea mixture and stir until well combined.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Bake until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: The casserole can be prepared and assembled up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. When baked straight from the refrigerator, add 10 minutes to the baking time.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 4 days.
Reprinted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles by Faith Durand. (Harvard Common Press, January 2011).