Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kale and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

We have a dish in the Philippines called Ginataang Kalabasa or Squash in Coconut Milk. One can add other vegetables like green beans to the squash and any kind of meat or seafood, the most common one being shrimp.

This recipe is an adaptation of this dish. I used butternut squash in combination with sweet kale.  I also used grape tomatoes and to boost the protein, I added canned northern beans.  Since I want this to be vegan, I did not use fish sauce the traditional seasoning and instead utilize the flavor of soy sauce or tamari. Non vegans can use the fish sauce which gives the dish that distinct flavor familiar to most Filipinos.

I have read a recent explanation why coconut oil and coconut in general have been touted to be healthy although it had been known otherwise due to it being a saturated fatty acid.  Not all saturated fatty acids are created equal.  In this publication written by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, PhD (please see the research papers cited therein), she explained that middle chain fatty acids which coconut oil mostly is composed of, metabolize through a different pathway that results in their being directly transported to the mitchondria (in the liver), the energy machine of our body.  As a result they are utilized for energy faster by the body than the long chain saturated and unsaturated ones like olive oil. These long chain ones go through a different pathway and they can end up as stored fat. Since coconut oil is metabolized faster it also helps the faster metabolism of its longer chain counterparts.

With this in mind, I used the coconut oil and coconut milk from the can in this dish with less trepidation than previously.  I highly recommend reading the source I obtained these pieces of information and the scientific research papers backing it up. Note to get the benefits of the coconut oil it must be raw or organic cold pressed and has not gone hydrogenation.

This dish is very delicious and filling served over the rice of your choice.  The flavor of the kale is enhanced by both the pairing with the squash and the thick coconut milk based sauce.

Kale and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp organic cold pressed coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1-15 oz can northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp of tamari
  • 2 dry red chili peppers
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head sweet kale, leaves chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • curry powder or juice of lemon (optional and suggested for added flavor)
In a large saute pan with a cover or a Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil at medium heat and saute the onion, ginger, garlic, grape tomatoes if using and tomato paste till cooked.  Then add the broth, beans, tamari, red chili peppers and coconut milk. Heat the mixture through then add the squash and kale and boil gently till the squash and kale are cooked.  You want the squash not to be mushy.  

You can serve this as a main dish over rice of your choice or over Naan bread or as a delicious side dish.

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