Monday, November 4, 2013

Pantry Party Casserole


It's time to admit that there will be a day in the not so distant future where the temperature will be minus 30 before windchill, the snow will be up to your shins, and the last thing you will want to do is leave the house.  This recipe is perfect for that day (and any other winter day when you are feeling lazy).

I first made this recipe when Scott and I were living in England.  We started out with only a hot plate to cook on, but luckily graduated to a gas range (hob) and oven a couple of months after settling in.  I have fond memories of making this dish after a chilly February day of showing my parents around London.  I still think of that day every time I make this dish, which is often, and remember my mom's worried look when I was (god forbid) putting garlic, of all things, in the pot.  This dish was responsible for helping her get over her fear of garlic just like a few of the previous recipes have been responsible for helping her get over her fear of basil.  God only knows what adventures await her next!

I use three pots at once in order to speed up the cooking time.  The first day you eat this, it will be soupy and is great to sop up with crusty bread.  The leftovers will be significantly drier.  Don't get turned off by all the steps, it's a really simple recipe, and after you make it once, you probably won't need to use the recipe again.  It is a good idea to make it when someone else is on clean-up duty, though...

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or organic canola oil
1 small white onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 can artichoke hearts, packed in water
1 can chickpeas
4-6 medium red potatoes
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
salt, pepper
fresh basil (optional)

Directions

1. Put a large, a medium, and a small pot on the stove.  Take out a casserole dish.

2. Chop the onion and garlic and put them in the medium pot with the oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.  Saute on medium heat for about 8 minutes.


3. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  (You can leave the skins on).  Simmer them in the large pot in salted water until they are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice and the tomato sauce to the onion pot and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thicker.  Add more salt and pepper, if needed.

5. Rinse the chickpeas under cold water and put them in the small pot.  Cover them with water and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft.

6. Preheat the broiler.

7. Drain the artichokes and quickly rinse in water, if you want.  They are okay if they are not rinsed, but they have a briny flavour.  Cut each heart into eighths.  Add to the tomato pot when the potatoes are almost done cooking.

8. Grate the cheese.

9. When the potatoes are finished cooking, drain them and let them sit for a couple of minutes so that all the water is gone.  Put them back into the large pot.

10. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the potato pot.  Pour the tomato/onion/artichoke mixture over the potatoes and chickpeas.  Stir carefully so that everything is mixed together.

11. Pour everything into the casserole dish and top with the grated cheese.


12. Cook under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.  Top with fresh basil, if desired.  Enjoy!


Shopping Tips:

1. Like I said, this is a great pantry recipe, so buy double the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and chickpeas so that you have them on hand the next time you want to whip up something from what you have in the cupboard.

Options:

1. This recipe is very flexible.  It can be made with any kind of cheese except maybe blue cheese.  If you don't have Italian herbs, just use dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, or a combination of what you have.  If you don't have fresh garlic, use garlic powder.  The point of this recipe is to use what you have on-hand, so feel free to experiment.

My method for making this is a bit unconventional because I don't want to wait for it to bake in the oven, and I prefer saut√©ing the onions instead of putting the into the casserole raw.  It makes for a much better flavour.  If you want to bake it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees instead of broiling it, you can and it will be less soupy, but I like the sauce - it's great with bread...

2 comments:

  1. November 29, 2013 At long last I get to cook again! lol I think this will be the dish of choice this weekend. I still consider this among one of my favorites and remember so clearly sitting in your kitchen in Leigh-on-Sea watching you prepare it while we chatted and enjoyed each others' company after the long flight from Alberta, Canada! I was so thrilled to see you again and super-happy to eat your always-delicious fare.

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  2. Made this one for dinner yesterday. Funny story! I thought I had enough potatoes out at the cottage so didn't buy more. When I got there I realized there were only two in the bag but, no worries, I decided to use the rutabaga in the other bag. Later, we decided to go back to town early because of the approaching blizzard so I wouldn't have to substitute the rutabaga for the potatoes after all.... good thing! What was in the bag was not a rutabaga but a butternut squash! How's that for cooking by the seat of your pants? LOL

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