Even when I’m out on vacation, I can’t seem to tear myself away from the kitchen. When I visited my family in the UK several years ago, I cooked this toasted coconut, bulgur and butternut squash bowl for dinner. Initially, I wanted to add toasted kale chips to the bowl for some crunch. For whatever reason, I couldn’t find kale that wasn’t already pre-chopped with their stems, so I gave the kale chips idea a miss. (I can’t stand kale with their tough, stringy stems intact.) I swapped the kale chips for baby spinach that I wilted in a pan, and the grain and butternut squash bowl still tasted wonderful.
I come back to this recipe a lot because it’s quite easy to prepare and a lot of its components can be cooked ahead. I often store cooked grains and roasted squash in my refrigerator so that I can throw together a lunch or dinner very quickly during the week. When I have my butternut squash and bulgur already cooked, this dish comes together in about 10 minutes!
KITCHEN TIP: HOW TO PEEL & CUT BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Toasted Coconut, Bulgur and Butternut Squash Bowl
- 1 cup uncooked bulgur
- 2 cups water
- 1 small butternut squash, about 1 and 1/2 pounds
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 6 ounces baby spinach
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 stalk of scallion, sliced
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- Add the water and bulgur in a saucepan, and bring the water to boil. Reduce the heat to low, put a lid on the saucepan, and let the bulgur gently simmer until the liquids are nearly evaporated, about 10-13 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the lid on the saucepan. The bulgur will continue to soften.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel and deseed the butternut squash. Chop the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss the cubed squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the squash onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the squash for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the cubes can be easily pierced with a fork.
- While the squash is cooking, toast the coconut in a pan. Heat the pan over medium heat, and spread the coconut inside. When the coconut starts to turn light tan, start stirring. Keep stirring until about half of the coconut is browned. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the coconut to a plate immediately. Otherwise, the coconut will continue to brown and it might burn.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the spinach and start stirring. Cook the spinach for about 1 to 2 minutes, until it starts to wilt.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked bulgur with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the butternut squash, toasted coconut, spinach, scallions and pomegranate arils.
- Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.
This coconut toasted coconut, bulgur and butternut squash bowl recipe was originally published in January 2015. It has been updated with a new headnote and photos.