You Heart What You Eat: Chick-Pea-Casse-Cotta |

You Heart What You Eat: Chick-Pea-Casse-Cotta

Tera Johnson-Swartz/For Steamboat Today

Explore's food contributor, Tera Johnson-Swartz shares a hearty recipe that is easy to make and loaded with protein and vitamins known as "Chick-Pea-Casse-Cotta."

— When I was growing up, we had a food processor. I'm not exactly sure why we ever had one; we never used it.

Perhaps it was a wedding gift for my parents or an impulse buy on a blow-out clearance sale. The point is, we had one in a cabinet that I swear during the first 18 years of my life I never once saw it beyond a nuisance space-taker in the cabinet, nor had any sense to try and figure it out — it had too many blades and attachments.

Fortunately, at some point during my California-livin' years, I braved up, bought one and finally mastered its purpose, and I’ve never looked back since. Next to my Kitchen Aid mixer, it's been the most used appliance in my house for desserts, sauces, side dishes and main courses, but especially for hiding those extra veggies I can't force my children to eat, even with bribes.

If you've read my previous blogs, you’ll know that we received a surplus of sweet pea shoots that our friend Mark Berkley from Innovative Ag Colorado. After eating salads, sandwiches, snacks with dip, smoothies (Sweet Pea Sh-moothies) and stir-fry (Ready, Aim, Stir Fry Pea Shoots) for nearly a week, I was running out of ways to get my kids to eat this healthy veggie without causing a mutiny in my household. And then I saw my beautiful Cuisinart food processor and all fears vanished instantly.

You see, in my house, if you can't figure out what to do with a vegetable, the food processor usually solves all problems. This time, I took the leftover roasted chicken, nearly expired but still good ricotta from our local Moon Hill Dairy, a good helping of our sweet pea shoots and remaining frozen broccoli florets to make quite a delicious casserole for dinner.

While I know you're already confident this super green casserole is healthy, let me just tell you how healthy. With about 120 calories per serving (without the crunchy crackers on top), this dish is loaded with protein (14.6 grams) and vitamins (23 percent vitamin C, 10 percent calcium and 4 percent iron) and is definitely easy to throw together, even for the biggest kitchen novice. In less than 15 minutes of prep-work after you pop it in the oven, it's ready in about 30 minutes.

Recommended Stories For You


2 cups shredded roasted chicken

1 cup ricotta

2 cloves minced garlic

1 1⁄2 cups sweet pea shoots

2 tablespoons olive oil

1⁄2 cup left over rice
salt and pepper to taste

Biscuits, crushed crackers or toasted bread

In a large bowl combine shred roasted chicken, left over rice and minced garlic and set aside. In your food processor, shred olive oil, ricotta and sweet pea shoots.

Mix sweet pea ricotta blend with chicken rice blend and spread evenly into a casserole dish.

Bake at 365 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes and serve over biscuits, toasted bread or crush some of your favorite crackers and sprinkle over the top. Enjoy.

You Heart What You Eat is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you'll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you'd like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.