SERVES 4 to 6

The word “casserole” is so unassuming and suggestive of “stuff from cans,” it hardly seems appropriate for this dish. It’s almost a confection, made of pillows, clouds, and whispers. It starts as a puree that, while not bad on its own, is still just squash. But lovingly stir in a touch of coconut milk, Ras el Hanout, and an egg, and what you remove from the oven a short time later is smooth, spicy-sweet, and so far beyond a casserole, it deserves a new name.


• 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 head garlic
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons coconut milk
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout (p. 47)
• 1 large egg
• 1/4 cup pecan halves, chopped (reserve a few whole for garnish)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the cut-side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water onto the paper around the squash.

2. Peel the loose, papery skin off the garlic, and wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil. Put the baking sheet of squash and the foil packet in the oven. Bake for 40–50 minutes, until the squash is tender. Set both aside until they’re cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.

4. When the squash is cool, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the roasted pulp into the bowl with the squash. Process the mixture to a smooth puree, then add the coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, and Ras el Hanout. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Scrape the puree into a large mixing bowl and stir in the beaten egg with a wooden spoon until combined.

6. Grease the inside of a 3-cup casserole dish or individual ramekins with a little coconut oil, then add the squash puree. Top with chopped pecans and bake in the 400-F oven for 25–30 minutes, until the edges are a little bubbly and the top is golden brown.

You know how you could do that?

Skip the baking step and instead make it a soup. Stir the purée into hot chicken or vegetable broth until desired consistency, then swirl in a few tablespoons of coconut milk. Add shredded, cooked chicken to make it a meal, then sprinkle the top with chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Replace the butternut squash with other winter squash varieties like acorn, delicata, kabocha, hubbard, turban, or pumpkin. Sweet potatoes or yams will work very nicely, too.

NOTES: If you’re using individual ramekins, keep an eye on the clock. You may need to reduce the second baking time to 15–20 minutes.