Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chickpeas with Delicata Squash, Kale and Coconut Milk

While spring is busy arriving in most parts of the country, it still comes with a few cool, rainy and even chilly days.  Here in Dallas the weather often changes at the drop of a hat and one of those cooler, rainy days  put me in the mood for some comfort food!  For me that is an opportunity to bring on a hearty soup or stew.   

However, I didn't feel like venturing out during the down pouring rain on a weekend to fight the crowds at Central Market, Whole Foods or Sunflower, so I rummaged around, found a squash that needed to be used, a lonely can of garbanzo beans and I ALWAYS have kale - so I decided to see what I could make.  

A quick search on the internet turned me to this blog site and voile my dreams were acutalized!

This dish is not only a feast for the senses, it's also a really nutrient dense dish.  You have all heard me extoll the virtues of the mighty KALE, and even talk about the health benefits of the medium chain fatty acids in coconut milk (that's why I use Thai Kitchen's Organic Coconut Milk - not the lite version) and how they are used for energy by the liver, but I haven't said much to date about both garbanzo beans so here's a little info . . .

Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a legume that's very common in all varieties of cuisine from Middle Eastern and North African countries.  Their use is diverse spanning everything from breads and crackers to dips, chips and even soups and stews!  For example fresh chickpeas are the main ingredient in falafels, but when dried they are often ground into flour and made into those crisp, lacy flatbread crackers called pappadam served in East Indian restaurants. Cooked garbanzos can be blended into heavenly hummus and even enjoyed with chip like crackers made from, you guessed it, chickpea flour!  And earlier this year I posted a fantastic North African Stew made from, of course, garbanzo beans!

So what's the fuss over these innocuous looking legumes?  Well, chickpeas and their constituents are really quite fascinating!  Here are some results of clinical trials done using garbanzos that will have you saying chickpeas please . . .

  • People who ate chickpeas daily had fewer cravings for "junk food" and an overall decrease in appetite.  
  • In a study on fiber one group was given fiber from a variety of sources while the other group was given fiber solely from garbanzos.  The garbanzo bean group had better blood fat regulation, lower LDL cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides.
  • In one study it took only 1 week of regular garbanzo bean consumption (1/2 cup per day) to demonstrate a significant improvement in blood sugar handling as well as insulin stimulation.
  • Another study on the benefits to colon health uncovered this:  Approximately 70% of the fiber found in garbanzo beans is insoluble fiber.  Insoluble  fiber remains undigested all the way down to the colon where it can be metabolized by bacteria in the colon to produce significant amounts of short chain fatty acids which provide fuel to the cells that line your intestinal wall, lowering your risk of colon problems, including your risk of colon cancer.

Don't you just love the internet????

Dr. P

I had such a nice weekend: it finally snowed so I was home most of the time hanging out with my family, and had a chance to clean and organize a bunch of areas in my house that desperately needed attention. I also got to cook a couple of delicious new dishes.

These wonderful Chickpeas with Delicata Squash, Kale, and Coconut Milk were adapted from the recipe for Chickpeas with Pumpkin, Lemongrass and Cilantro, which can be found in the lovely book Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.
I think it’s an exquisite vegan meal: not quite a soup or stew, since there’s only one cup of coconut milk and a smaller amount of water here (and the liquids mostly cook off). The chickpeas and vegetables have a silky texture and wonderful coconut flavor, spicy from the fresh chiles but not too spicy, and not at all complicated, since I did not raid my spice rack to make this dish like I sometimes do.
If you prefer a “soupier” meal, you can certainly double the amount of the coconut milk and add more water; if you prefer a more complex flavor profile, herbs/spices that would be nice here include lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ground cardamon, coriander, and tumeric. I served this over short grain brown rice, but I think quinoa would be great, too.
The quick chile sauce is optional, but highly recommended: it really makes the dish shine. Please don’t skip the fresh lime juice, though- you’ll love how its acidity balances out the sweet, rich coconut milk.

recipe for chickpeas with delicata squash, kale, and coconut milk

Yield: Serves 3-4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


*2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
*1 large onion, peeled and chopped
*5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
*2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
*1 hot red chile, chopped
*1 delicata squash, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
*2 organic carrots, scrubbed and chopped
*one 15 ounce jar of canned organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or use 2 cups chickpeas that have been soaked overnight and cooked until tender
*1 cup of organic coconut milk, well stirred
*1/2 cup water
*2 tablespoons organic dark brown sugar
*1 handful Tuscan or other kale, torn into bite-size pieces
*1 handful of minced cilantro
*fresh lime juice, for garnish
*optional garnish- 1 hot red chile, minced and mixed with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon organic brown sugar


1. In a cast iron or other large skillet, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for a minute or two.
2. Reduce heat a bit, add the garlic, ginger, and chile, and cook for another minute or two. Add the chopped squash and carrots to the pan, then add the chickpeas, the coconut milk, the water, and the brown sugar. Stir all the ingredients together in the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash and chickpeas are very tender. Add more coconut milk and/or water to the pan while cooking, if necessary, or if you desire a finished dish that's more like a stew.
3. Add the kale and the cilantro to the pan, stir everything around, and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and make the chile sauce while it cools a bit.
4. To make the chile sauce, combine minced chile with rice vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl.
5. Serve the chickpeas over cooked brown rice or quinoa, with a small spoonful of the chile sauce, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice on top.
Adapted from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.

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