Butternut Squash and Chard in Spicy Harissa Coconut Sauce

Butternut squash and chard are braised in a coconut milk sauce spiced with garlic, ginger and harissa.

coconut milk sauce, harissa sauce, butternut squash, chard

This is the kind of recipe I get excited about; it’s a quick, all-in-one pan, weeknight kind of deal that couldn’t be any simpler to throw together.

This quick butternut squash and chard side is the sort of thing I like to make when I want something  rich and vibrant; something to shake up my taste buds while remaining cozy and comforting.

coconut milk sauce, harissa sauce, butternut squash, chard

A warm and creamy (despite its lack of cream) combination of slightly sweet butternut squash in spicy coconut sauce is punctuated with a splash of green from a generous amount of chopped chard thrown in at the last minute.

The butternut squash is essentially braised in the coconut milk, infusing every piece with spices like garlic, ginger and a bit of heat from a spicy North African paste called harissa.  You can make the dish as mild or hot as you can tolerate by adjusting the amount of paste you use.  The natural sweetness of the butternut squash is balanced by the bite of the harissa paste.

swiss chard

So here’s how it all comes together:

Once the butter is sizzling and fragrant from the minced garlic you pile in the slices of peeled and sliced butternut squash and get them  a little brown around the edges.

butternut squash

Then you tip in the coconut milk along with the aromatics, slap a lid on the whole thing and let it bubble and simmer away as it reduces and coats the sweet squash.  And last but not least the chard joins the party and is cooked just long enough to soften and cook through.

coconut milk sauce, harissa sauce, butternut squash, chard

Have you ever tried harissa paste?

Butternut Squash and Chard in Spicy Harissa Coconut Sauce Recipe

Yields Serves 4

The spicy coconut milk sauce infuses the butternut squash and chard with bold flavor.

20 minPrep Time

25 minCook Time

Save Recipe


  • 2 Tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into half moons or cubes
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1-2 Tablespoons harrisa sauce, homemade or store bought (adjust amount to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh peeled, grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4-5 chard leaves, stems removed and sliced thinly


  1. Melt butter and garlic in heavy large deep skillet over medium heat. Add squash and sauté 1 minute. Add coconut milk, harissa paste, ginger and salt and bring to boil. Cover reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until squash is almost done, about10 minutes. Add chard cover and cook until leaves wilt, turning occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover the pan and raise heat to stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and thickened. Serve warm.


Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Vegetarian, for Vegan use coconut oil instead of butter.



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says

    The colours itself do half the job for the dish by making it look extremely appetizing. Squashes complement coconut milk very well so I am won over by this recipe. As always, Sylvie, your photographs are wonderful!

  2. says

    This does look so good, rich and creamy and colorful! And the spicy coconut sauce sounds divine. A meal in itself. Beautiful as always!

  3. says

    Butternut just starts to appear on food stalls down here. I like the coconut milk and butternut combination. The harissa is an excellent idea to spice it up.

  4. says

    Hey – how did you know – all my favourite ingredients in one pan :)) Butternut squash is a staple in my kitchen and I love how you’ve lifted its sweet flavour with spicy harissa. Inspired 🙂

  5. says

    Butternut squash has never looked so sexy & yummy! Beautiful photography! Sorry I’m late to the party here…I think you gave me your bug, Sylvie! Got knocked on bum, badly…then an allergic reaction. Have so many posts to finish, but catching up with blog love too! xo

  6. says

    I am watching heavy snow falling all day, and just made a pot of soup almost like this – only with red lentils and spinach. Too bad the cupboard is almost bare with no butternut squash, because I can sense how the flavors come together deliciously!

    • says

      I’m so glad you liked it! The squash will take shorter or longer to cook based on how think or thinly you slice it so I’d say just use the time in the recipe as a guide and test with a fork to see when it’s done to the point you like it.

  7. Kristen says

    We made this tonight and it was perfection! We had chard and butternut squash from our garden and had some homemade harissa waiting to be used up in the freezer! Served over rice and my husband and I both loved it. Thanks for such a delicious recipe!

  8. Dani says

    Just made this for dinner tonight! I couldn’t find harissa anywhere, so I substituted Sambal Oelek chili paste, which worked fine! LOVED the sweet/spicy-ness of the coconut milk with the squash, though I think I’ll double the chard next time and serve over rice.