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Melty Cheese, Squash and Chickpea Delight

In a study published in the December 2006 Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 47 adults participated in one of two eating plans (5 weeks duration) that provided the calories sufficient to maintain their current weight, one plan supplemented with equal calories of cooked chickpeas, and the other with cooked wheat.

The chickpea-supplemented diet resulted in a significantly higher drop in total cholesterol, which was largely due to a 4.6% drop in LDL “bad” cholesterol.  Beans do us good.  Eat more of them!

Now, here’s the rub.  Tom in our kitchen makes this same dish with about half the amount of cheese I use.  He says it tastes just as good.  When I eat cheese, I like a lot of it, and I won’t cut even a cup-full in this recipe.  So do what you got to do, the ball’s in your court!

Serves 8                                                          Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes

8 C diced zucchini, Zephyr or summer squash ¼ C Pecorino Romano
4 C diced tomatoes, or 4 C tomato sauce 6-8 cloves finely minced garlic
4 C cooked chickpeas (drained), or 2 cans Eden 1 tsp dried oregano
6 C shredded cheese* such as Monterey Jack, cheddar, Asiago, havarti or leftover bits of any cheese you have to use up 1 tsp dried basil
¼ C extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp dried thyme
4 C shredded cheese* for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients except the last 4 C shredded cheese in a large lasagna-type pan. Lightly level with hands and top with those 4 C saved shredded cheese. Cover and bake about 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes. Cheese will be nice and bubbly. Dish will have a lot of liquid.  Tom suggests, therefore, serving over rice.

This was served at the Fish Belong to the People film showing at our store. It got rave reviews and people have been asking for the recipe. Since this recipe makes a lot, you can scale down as you like…

*If your family can’t do dairy, the Daiya shredded cheese is wonderful here. It’s the first non-dairy cheese we’ve seen that gets melty and gooey and stretchy like real cheese.

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