Chickpea Casserole

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a nutrient-dense legume. One can (about 16 ounces) of chickpeas contains 22.04 grams of protein, 157 milligrams of calcium, 645 milligrams of potassium, 9 grams of fat and no cholesterol, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrient database.

You may know chickpeas or garbanzos as the main ingredient for hummus, but the chickpea can be the star in a flavorful casserole as well. For a meatless entree, try zesty chickpea casserole served with a salad of mixed greens, sun-dried tomatoes and a light vinaigrette. This casserole recipe serves six.

Ingredients

  • 3 cans (16 ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

  • 1 cup chopped green onions

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black (or white) pepper

  • 2 medium or large eggs

  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese (small curd)

  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 3/4 cup dried bread crumbs

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (mild or sharp, depending on your taste preference)

  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Before preparing the casserole, preheat an oven to 375 degrees. This casserole fits a 9-by-13-inch baking dish comfortably. Coat the casserole dish lightly with nonstick cooking spray to keep the finished product from sticking to the dish after baking. Set the dish aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, cooked rice, green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs. Stir in the cottage cheese, yogurt and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan (or Romano) cheese and mix thoroughly. Toss the parsley and cilantro into the egg mixture and stir until combined.

Add the egg mixture to the larger bowl containing the chickpea mixture. Stir until combined thoroughly. In a small bowl, mix the other 1/2 cup of Parmesan (or Romano) cheese, the bread crumbs, garlic powder and the shredded cheddar cheese. This mix will go on top of the casserole.

Spread the chickpea casserole in the prepared baking dish. Top with the bread-crumb mixture, and drizzle about 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over the topping. Bake the chickpea casserole for 40 to 45 minutes. The topping should turn golden brown, and the casserole will be bubbling gently. Before serving, allow the casserole to stand for about 10 minutes. This will help the casserole take a firmer shape, making serving easier.

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