Syrian Chickpea & Quinoa Casserole (Cascasoon)

Memorial Day marks the start of summer and thank goodness warmer weather seems to have arrived. Yesterday in Great Neck Estates, we celebrated our Centennial with a big bash. The typical barbecue fare that most people have associated with Memorial Day weekend as the griddle sizzles with smoke.

I was manning the table for the Environmental Commission educating our 1000 families on Recycling, CSA’s and Green Living. You can always drop me a line if you would like the comprehensive pamphlet that I created and I will be happy to email it to you.

In any event, Vegetarians seem to miss out on the barbecues and we are always in search of alternatives. It’s like we are missing part of the fun. Memorial Day has always been associated with outdoor activities and barbecues while gathering with family and friends. So this year, I made a big dish suitable for a large crowd and almost anyone, especially the little ones will love it.

This Syrian dish known as Cascasoon is traditionally made with couscous, coming from the Arabic etymology, “minced into small pieces.” I have substituted couscous for quinoa, which does not compromise flavor whatsoever. For those of you that like melted gooey stringy cheese, you can bake the Cascasoon with cheese, which makes it more of a family meal that the kids will enjoy. I have used Muenster cheese, because I like that “Muenster” is a derivative of the Latin word “monasterium.” Monks lived quiet simple lives in harmony with nature.

Memorial Day is the time to spend with your family- outdoors in nature, a meal that will bring harmony as you eat and chat together. This recipe has been adapted from Poopa Dwek’s Aroma’s of Allepo.

Serves 6 to 8

 

INGREDIENTS


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (16 ounce) package of Quinoa (2 cups)
2 cups cooked Garbanzo beans ** (One 15 ounce can, washed and drained)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ½ cups water
¼ cup olive oil
¼ pound sliced Meunster cheese (optional)*

Directions

1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 6 to 8 minutes, or until translucent.
2 Add the Quinoa and continue sautéing until the grain turns brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
3 Add the chickpeas (if not using canned, otherwise add it in step 4) salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer covered until all the water is soaked up, about 25 minutes.
4 Pour in the olive oil and toss gently. If using canned chickpeas, add it in this step.
5 Optional: Spoon the Cascasoon into a baking casserole dish and top with the cheese. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Cooks Note:
* Vegan option if not using cheese in step 5.
** To Prepare: ¾ cup beans, soaked overnight or boil them for an hour. Remove outer layer; drain and rinse.

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