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

Ingredients:

*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

Directions:

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.