A fabulously festive vegan and gluten free option for the Thanksgiving and holiday season that nobody will be able to resist.
Tumble the beans into a slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients for them EXCEPT the salt, and pour over enough water to cover them by 3 inches. Put on high and cook for 4 hours, then another 2 – 4 hours on low—this may very slightly based on your slow cooker and its size. I usually check on them after the first 2 hours on low and, if they’re almost soft enough but not quite, I turn the heat up to high again, season with salt, and leave it uncovered—it helps to reduce the broth a bit and concentrate the flavors.
After the beans are cooked, drain them from the slow cooker, but reserve the liquid.
Put the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear. Set it aside to drain of excess water for a bit.
In a wide, shallow sauté pan, sauté the shallots in the coconut oil for a few minutes until soft. Pour in the water and stir in the rice. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low (or move to the smallest burner with the lowest possible flame), and steam for 12 – 15 minutes, or per package instructions (see recipe note). Let it sit, covered, off the heat on a cool burner for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Toss the butternut squash chunks with the coconut oil on two baking sheets, and roast in the preheated oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining coconut oil in a Dutch oven or braising pan over medium heat and add in the shallots or onions. Toss them about to coat them in the oil, cooking for about 3 – 5 minutes. Season with a bit of salt before adding in the smashed garlic (and I mean really smash it!) and minced chili. Stir to combine.
Tumble in the cooked and drained chickpeas, reserving about ¼ cup of them. Pour in 1 cup of the bean broth and let it come to a simmer.
Once the squash in the oven is golden brown on the outside—and, don’t worry too much about them being fully cooked within, as they’ll finish softening in the broth—reserve about ¼ cup of the squash and fold the rest into the pan of chickpeas.
Put the reserved chickpeas, butternut squash, and ½ cup of the bean broth in a mini food processor and puree until smooth. Pour this into the pan of chickpeas and squash.
This can simmer for just a few minutes so it comes together, or up to 15 – 20 minutes (you don’t want it to go too long, as the squash can fall apart). Point is, simmer just long enough fork the rice into a wide, somewhat shallow serving dish. Ladle the chickpea-butternut stew over the rice, scatter with parsley and pomegranate seeds, and corral everyone to the table.
When I cook rice I always rinse it, use slightly less water than the package instructs (for 1-1/2 cups of the Royal Blend rice you'd need 2-1/4 cups water—I use 2 cups), the water is never cold (always room temp) or salted (until the end), and it's always cooked in a wide saute pan. It sounds ridiculous, but I never have gummy or overly starchy rice when cooked this way.