Tropical meets comfort

When I think of island vacation getaways, I think of coconuts.  When I think of winter comfort cooking, my mind goes to butternut squash.  So why not combine the two? 


Oh yes I did.

The base of the dish was made and then frozen nearly a month ago…back when my friend gave me two cases of butternut squash.


I used the slow cooker, adding an entire butternut squash (cubed) and a box of Vita Coco coconut water and leaving it alone for 4 hours to do it’s thang. 


Before and after.


Then I tupperwared it up, threw it in the freezer, and forgot about it for a few months.

Cut to the other day…

I took the coconut squash out of the freezer and submerged it in a warm water bath in the sink to thaw.  When it had reached a semi-liquefied state, I put it in the slower cooker to both finish thawing and start cooking.  


After a couple of hours the formerly cubed squash chunks started to puree on their own from simply being cooked for so long. 


At this point I added in a can of chickpeas and 1/2 cup coconut flour and let it cook for another hour.  The flour thickened up the squash and absorbed the excess liquid perfectly.


Had I planned ahead (or known where I was going with the dish), I would have cooked the pasta in the crock-pot, too.  Oh well. 


I cooked them separately, then combined them in a casserole dish afterwards.


Coconut & Butternut Pasta Casserole


  • 1 butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta shells (dry)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • salt (to taste)

*note: I may add in broccoli next time for a contrasting color/texture



This pasta bake was a surprising success.  Most casseroles use cheese to hold the ingredients together, but in this case, the butternut squash did the trick. 


Kyle was the first to dig in, taking a little scoop before heading off to a dinner meeting.  He doesn’t even like squash on it’s own, and he liked the dish so that says a lot.


The squash almost seems cheesy (a good way to sneak in veggies for those who may have trouble fitting in all the recommended servings).  Plus, the healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber of squash certainly trumps the nutritional profile of cheese.  When combined with chickpeas and durum wheat shells, the stats of this vegan dish are beyond impressive – all macronutrients accounted for. 


I served my portion up alongside a spinach and Bragg’s salad.


The subtle coconut notes were the best part of the dish.  Seriously yum.  I had a second serving that was even more generous than my first.  I’m pretty sure this is the perfect way to ring in spring. 

Before I go, I wanted to spread the word about a donation rally raising funds for the American Red Cross’ Japan-related relief efforts.  The Blogging for a Change Donation Rally will be going all week and 100% of of proceeds will go straight to the Red Cross to help Japan rebuild!

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25 thoughts on “Tropical meets comfort

  1. Meg

    Oh wowww, I need to make this (a GF version!) ASAP – I love butternut squash and never make anything other than fries with it…here’s to exploration!

  2. Katie

    You are so dang creative! I would never have thought to put those two flavors together. The perfect way to welcome the springtime, for sure.

  3. Michelle


    This is off-topic and a little weird so I apologize in advance. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now- I know you said on your Info page that you’re from California, moved to New York and then back to California. I’d like to pick your brain a bit about moving cross-country to California. I’m an RN as well (soon to be ARNP after I graduate next May) and would like to get a bit of advice from you as to nice areas in California, colleges to teach at, etc. Would you mind if I e-mailed you?

    Many thanks in advance.

  4. Michelle

    What’s your e-mail address? If you don’t want to post it, you can e-mail me first at meb05fATgmailDOTcom

    Thanks :)

  5. Sami

    MMM! You need to create a cookbook :)

    Just sayin’ <3

    Do you think this cassserole would work without coconut flour? I don't have any :(

  6. elise

    yeah. im sure it would work with regular flour – but just to get additional tropical flavor, maybe add in some extra coconut in the form of milk or butter or something?

  7. Ashley

    This recipe looks delicious! Is there any way to make it without the slow cooker (don’t have one)?

    ps. love your site!

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