This cheese-laced vegetable chowder isn't for the fainthearted. Croesus would have loved it; it's that rich. A mixture of vegetables, seasonings--garlic, basil, bay leaf--and rich cheeses and cream, this chowder will thaw your bones on a chilly, wet evening. If you must embellish it, salad and sourdough bread will suffice. And don't let the amount the recipe makes keep you from trying it; leftover chowder freezes beautifully. ITALIAN OVEN CHEESE CHOWDER 1/2 pound zucchini, sliced 2 onions, sliced 1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans 1 1-pound can tomatoes, chopped cup butter or margarine 1 1/2 cups dry white wine 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon minced basil leaves 1 bay leaf Salt, pepper 1 cup shredded Jack cheese 1 cup grated Romano cheese 1 cup whipping cream
Combine zucchini, onions, beans, tomatoes and their liquid, butter, wine, garlic, basil and bay leaf in 3-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, stirring once halfway through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cheeses and cream. Bake 10 minutes longer. Makes 3 quarts.
PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER / FOOD STYLIST: NONA BAER ACCESSORIES FROM LAWRY'S CALIFORNIA CENTER GIFT SHOP, LOS ANGELES TILES FROM COUNTRY FLOORS, LOS ANGELES