My photo does not do this dish justice, but I assure you though that this casserole is not to be missed. For those of you who may have been raised on chicken pot pies, this creamy chickpea is very much like a vegan rendition of this comfort food classic, and it is really just as comforting to the contemporary vegetarian. It is easy to prepare, and with chickpeas, succulent mushrooms, brown rice and herbs, finished off with a cashew paste and some nutritional yeast, you have a complete and hearty meal with plenty of protein. I served it up with my classic Greek salad for a meal that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Creamy Chickpea, Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in 1/2 cup warm water for 1 hour
juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
pinch of sea salt
Rinse the chickpeas and brown rice separately and soak each in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then transfer to a small saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, drain the rice and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Now add the carrots and garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, cook for another few minutes, then stir in the sage, thyme, marjoram and celery seed.
Preheat an oven to 350°. Transfer the skillet contents to a large lightly greased casserole dish and pour in the rice and water. Cover and bake for 60 minutes.
While the casserole is in the oven, make up the cashew paste. Combine the cashews with their soaking water and the lemon juice and salt in a small food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
Take the casserole out of the oven, stir in the cashew paste, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Stir in a little water if you want a thinner casserole. Cover and let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Taste for seasoning and add more herbs and salt and pepper if desired.