The first time I made this kale dish was for a small dinner party. As I was tossing it all together one of my friends said, “Wow, it’s like all of my favorite things on one plate.” Exactly. It’s a slew of treasures served up in braised goodness- red kale, creamy roasted butternut squash, spiced chickpeas, crunchy pomegranate seeds and the tang of feta- what’s not to like? It’s like giving your mouth a little trip to Morocco.
Consider this is a California version of braised kale. In the South, they cook greens with a little pork fat until it’s soft and delicious. Here, we use olive oil and finish with sherry— it’s equally good, just different than what you might usually expect. It’s bright and fresh, sort of like sun-drenched blonde jogging along the coastline.
It takes a little prep work to comprise the components of the dish, but it’s quick and easy to pull off the actual cooking part. This dish is also versatile; you could serve it as a delightful meat-free main course for your newly vegetarian daughter coming home from college, or as a tasty side alongside turkey or duck. You can skip the cheese and make it vegan. It can be served warm or at room temperature, making it ideal for entertaining or a potluck.
Moroccan Spiced Braised Kale, Butternut Squash and Chickpeas
Note: I’ll roast a whole butternut squash and reserve what I need for the recipe and the rest goes to the kids. I’ve successfully served my kids a deconstructed version of this dish with the squash, chickpeas and pomegranate seeds.
1 bunch red kale, about 8 cups –packed, stems removed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ tsp salt
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 ½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 chile de arbol (stem removed)
1 16 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 2 cup chickpeas
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups cubed and roasted butternut squash*
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Place a Dutch oven on medium high heat; add half the oil, garlic and chile and cook until garlic is fragrant, about two minutes. Next, add the kale and toss in the hot oil mixture coating the kale, do this for about one minute. Stir in the sherry vinegar, water, salt and cover.
Turn heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes. Using tongs remove the kale and garlic to a plate. Leave juices in the pan but discard chile de arbol. Turn the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half, carefully reserving for later use.
Wipeout the pan and add the remaining olive oil and add cumin and cinnamon and toast on medium high heat for one to two minutes—add the chickpeas and stir to incorporate and cook until warm, about five minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the reduced liquid, butternut squash, and kale. Stir gently, you don’t want your butternut squash to get too man handled. Add the warmed kale mixture to a large platter and garnish with pomegranate seeds, feta and cilantro. Drizzle with top shelf olive oil to finish and serve.
*Roast cubed butternut squash in a 375 degree oven on a sheet pan tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste for 30 -40 minutes, until golden brown.