Friday, August 7, 2009

New recipe: Bean and Ricotta Casserole

The weather has been cool enough this week that I've been willing to turn on the oven and attempt a casserole. This one was pretty good, even if it wasn't pretty. Anything with ricotta in it always catches my eye.

Actually, I eyeballed the measurements and was a little confused by this recipe. I got it from a large veggie cookbook my mom gave me way back, The Passionate Vegetarian. I
left off the breadcrumbs on top. I think there was one ingredient which was never used. I also found it funny that it called for nutmeg "to taste" to be mixed with ricotta and raw egg. I'm not going to taste that! The closest I can come is whether I want a little or a lot, but I have no idea!

It may be because I just finished reading Julia Child's My Life in France, or even just that I'm trying to actually follow a recipe rather than just toss some food together, that I have this new scrutiny. I know I would fail if she were to judge my write-ups by her standards. I also have a real appreciation for TV and demonstration cooks because so far the best recipes I've tried have come from watching or adapting TV chefs.

Three Bean and Ricotta Casserole

1 cup rice, cooked. I follow this recipe for great rice.
3 cups cooked beans. I used the dry Ham Beens mix, soaked them overnight, and cooked them 4 hours in the Crock Pot. Yes, this includes more than three beans, both
in quantity and variety.
1 tub ricotta, mix with:
1 egg
salt, pepper, and nutmeg
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Frozen green peas
Oil for skillet

This recipe is a layering of 4 distinct prepared mixes. The photo is the casserole with the first scoop taken out to show the layers. My casserole dish was too small -- I had to leave out some peas and it spilled over a little when the ricotta and egg expanded. I mention below, too, that I'd use less rice next time. You can see I made a mess scooping out, too. Oops!

1. Press the cooked rice into the bottom of a casserole dish.

2. Spread the cooked beans over the rice.

3. Mix the ricotta with the egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, "to taste". Spread this over the beans.

4. Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Rinse the frozen peas in hot water to thaw, then pat dry. Add to the mix in the skillet and spread across the ricotta.

5. Cover tightly and bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

I'm glad I gave this recipe a try and I may try it again. Personally I don't think the rice was necessary, at least in the quantity I included, and the casserole as a whole was much better when I mixed it together on my plate, but I can see that it would need to be baked in layers. I really liked the peas, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Maybe I could make that to go with mashed potatoes sometime. Yum!

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