The word “casserole” is so unassuming, so implicit of “stuff from cans,” it hardly seems appropriate for this dish. An almost confection made of pillows and clouds and whispers, it starts as a purée that, while not bad on its own, is still just squash. But lovingly stir in a touch of coconut milk, appropriately Fall-like spices, 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.
Melissa Joulwan is the author of the cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and the blog The Clothes Make The Girl where she writes every day about her triumphs and failures in the gym, in the kitchen, and in life. Melissa follows the paleo diet except for occasional interruptions for popcorn or a glass of bubbly. In addition to The Clothes Make The Girl, you can follow her adventures and recipes on Twitter, too.
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Yields: 4 servings | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Calories: 241 | Total Fat: 11.5 g | Saturated Fat: 5.4 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 41 mg | Sodium: 176 mg | Carbohydrates: 35.4 g | Dietary Fiber: 6.9 g | Sugars: 6.9 g | Protein: 5.1 g | SmartPoints: 9 |
- 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup pecan halves, chopped (reserve a few whole for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water onto the paper around the squash.
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 40 to 50 minutes, until the squash is tender. Set both aside until they're cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
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, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. Scrape the purée into a large mixing bowl and stir in the beaten egg with a wooden spoon until combined.
Grease the inside of a 3-cup casserole dish or individual ramekins with a little coconut oil, then add the squash purée. 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.