spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacosI know there are many of you who have been patiently waiting for this recipe ever since I showcased it in my weekly menu post last week. Thanks for being so patient and I hope that these tacos make your wait worthwhile. I love it when I find a new family approved and easy weeknight meatless dinner (that was a mouthful). It’s so nice because I try and strive to have at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week, if possible. I want to make meatless nights fun and tasty and full of variety for the family, not boring and something that no one looks forward to. I truly have found the best recipes since I started my meatless search, and these tacos along with my Paul McCartney refried bean tacos are keepers!

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacosI was originally hesitant to try these tacos because even though I like spaghetti squash, I don’t LOVE it as a substitute for good old pasta, (I’m truly a carb girl) and neither does my family. We eat as a substitute once in a while because its healthy.  So, I finally picked up my reserved copy (after months of waiting) of Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook from the library. I opened it up and this particular recipe grabbed my eye. Deb’s photo was amazing and really made me want to eat these tacos. I also loved that Deb was not a huge fan of spaghetti squash being a substitute for pasta either. She did feel differently about spaghetti squash when she made these tacos though. The squash really captures all the flavors from the chili spices and lime and it pairs wonderfully with all the toppings, plus it looks so pretty. I felt that if Deb and I were both in agreement that spaghetti squash is not a great substitute for pasta, then I might agree with her about these tacos, so I was game to give these a try.

I decided to make these up for lunch one Sunday afternoon, as I didn’t want to commit my family to eating these for dinner if they weren’t a success. Just so you know, John wanted no part in these tacos. He was not going to try them, and that was that. Well, I have to tell you that the kids and I raved about these tacos at lunch that John peered into the kitchen and decided he could take a small bite, that small bite led him to eating not one, but two tacos.  I was one happy mama because I now had another meatless taco recipe to add to my weekly menu.spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacos:

recipe from Smitten Kitchen cookbook
Makes enough for sixteen 6-inch tacos

  • 3 pounds spaghetti squash (either one large or 2 small) – You don’t want to go any larger than 3 pounds because there won’t be enough seasoning to flavor your squash mixture
  • 2 tablespoons (about 1 lime) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained very well
  • roughly 1/4 cup finely diced red or white onion – I used a red onion here, as it has more flavor and adds a pop of color as well.
  • crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese - both are so similar in taste and texture that it doesn’t really matter which one you use
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 10-16  6-inch soft corn tortillas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prep and cook up your spaghetti squash.  Here’s the cliff note version on how to roast up spaghetti squash. Rinse your squash, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, throw about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on each half and roast both halves face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the squash halves in the pre-heated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 45-60 minutes, or longer depending on the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. I have more detailed step-by-step instructions on how to cook a spaghetti squash here. If you prep the squash via the step-by-step instructions, make sure you don’t add any salt or pepper to the squash halves for this recipe.  

While the squash is cooking away, prep your ingredients. Squeeze your 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice into a small bowl. In another small bowl mix together the 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, set aside. Dice up your red onion, wash up the cilantro and trim off the bottom stems, rinse and drain your black beans and throw your cheese into a bowl.  We’re setting up a taco bar baby!

DSC_0039When the squash is finished cooking, let it cool for a few minutes so its easier to handle.  Working over a large bowl, gently scrape out the flesh with a fork. Compost the skin. Add the 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the bowl with the chili spices and whisk to combine.

DSC_0005-4Pour the chili and lime mixture over the squash strands and toss well to combine.  I used a pair of tongs here so that I could really get everything mixed well together.  You will notice that the color of the squash will change from a golden-yellow to an orange color.

DSC_0045You can heat up your tortillas at any time, either while your squash is cooking, cooling or after it’s been mixed together with the spices.  You can heat up the tortillas one of three ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20
seconds per side.
Don’t feel like turning on the grill?  Then turn on your stove.  Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side, or until you get it browned to your liking.  Use a pair of tongs to flip the tortilla.

Don’t have a stove with burners?  That’s ok.  Just heat up a dry, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Warm and slightly blister each tortilla, about 30 seconds per side.

DSC_0047You don’t have to heat up the corn tortillas, but they taste SO much better when you do, seriously, give it a try.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos! Sprinkle each tortilla with a layer of black beans.

DSC_0058Throw some of the squash mixture on top of the beans.

DSC_0059Throw on some cheese and red onions.

DSC_0064Top it all off with some fresh cilantro. We love eating the cilantro leaves and the top of the stems, but you can also just chop up the leaves serve it that way as well.

DSC_0065There’s your finished product! Its just so vibrant and colorful, I love it!

spaghetti squash tacosServe them up to the kids and watch as they disappear. They’re really are a kid friendly taco because the flavors are pretty mild, not too spicy at all. My kids love the both the Cotija and queso fresco cheeses.  Both are super mild, but full of flavor.

Going, going, gone!

DSC_0048Hopefully your kids will give you the thumbs up as well.

DSC_0046This truly is an easy weeknight dinner to throw together. The only part that takes time is the roasting of the squash.  The prepping and chopping can all be done while the squash is roasting away.  I hope this recipe makes it into your taco Tuesday rotation.

spaghetti squash tacos

Rating: 51

Serving Size: sixteen 6-inch tacos

spaghetti squash tacos

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds spaghetti squash (either one large or 2 small) - You don't want to go any larger than 3 pounds because there won't be enough seasoning to flavor your squash mixture
  • 2 tablespoons (about 1 lime) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained very well
  • roughly 1/4 cup finely diced red or white onion - I used a red onion here, as it has more flavor and adds a pop of color as well.
  • crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese - both are so similar in taste and texture that it doesn't really matter which one you use
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 10-16 6-inch soft corn tortillas

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prep and cook up your spaghetti squash.

Here's the cliff note version on how to roast up spaghetti squash. Rinse your squash, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, throw about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on each half and roast both halves face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the squash halves in the pre-heated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 45-60 minutes, or longer depending on the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

I have more detailed step-by-step instructions on how to cook a spaghetti squash on my recipe page under "how to." If you prep the squash via the step-by-step instructions, make sure you don't add any salt or pepper to the squash halves for this recipe.

While the squash is cooking away, prep your ingredients. Squeeze your 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice into a small bowl. In another small bowl mix together the 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, set aside. Dice up your red onion, wash up the cilantro and trim off the bottom stems, rinse and drain your black beans and throw your cheese into a bowl.

When the squash is finished cooking, let it cool for a few minutes so its easier to handle. Working over a large bowl, gently scrape out the flesh with a fork. Compost the skin.

Add the 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the bowl with the chili spices and whisk to combine.

Pour the chili and lime mixture over the squash strands and toss well to combine. I used a pair of tongs here so that I could really get everything mixed well together. You will notice that the color of the squash will change from a golden-yellow color to an orange color.

You can heat up your tortillas at any time, either while your squash is cooking, cooling or after it's been mixed together with the spices. You can heat up the tortillas one of three ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side.

Don’t feel like turning on the grill? Then turn on your stove. Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side, or until you get it browned to your liking. Be sure to use a pair of tongs to flip the tortilla.

Don't have a stove with burners? That's ok. Just heat up a dry, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Warm and slightly blister each tortilla, about 30 seconds per side.

You don’t have to heat up the corn tortillas, but they taste SO much better when you do, seriously, give it a try.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!

Sprinkle each tortilla with a layer of black beans.

Throw some of the squash mixture on top of the beans.

Throw on some cheese and red onions.

Top it all off with some fresh cilantro. We love eating the cilantro leaves and the top of the stems, but you can also just chop up the leaves serve it that way as well.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2013/01/spaghetti-squash-tacos/

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Comments

  1. says

    Yay, I’m so glad you posted this recipe! I can’t wait to try it. I like spaghetti squash, but you’re so right that it just doesn’t cut it as a pasta substitute. I do it too because its healthy, but if you love it in these tacos, they must be good. Such great pictures too. I just pinned it!
    I envy your gas stove! We used to have a one much of our married life, but when we moved to this house, it had electric. I’ve gotten used to it, but I love the quick convenience of a gas stove and for things like toasting up tortillas or roasting peppers.
    Alright Marin Mama :) , I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening. Chat soon! xoxo, Sharon

    • jackiegrandy says

      Yaay I’m so glad it got posted as well, and earlier than I had planned to. You know your fun post today really gave me the energy to keep plugging away. It was the perfect lunch-time reading. I’m finally glad I got a good photo from the 100 photos I took of these tacos. Tacos are so difficult to shoot especially ones that have a filling that blends in with the corn tortilla. You could also heat the tacos up in a dry cast iron skillet since you don’t have the burner or throw them under the broiler for a bit and brown them up that way as well. xoxo, Jackie

    • jackiegrandy says

      I love her book and think I might have to go and purchase a copy! I have so many cookbooks though that they’re taking up my bookshelves. I think it might be time to sort through the older ones that I don’t use. I totally think these tacos would be up your alley girl and Skyler would like them as well.

  2. says

    You got the Smitten Kitchen cookbook! Don’t you just love it? I was hesitant about these tacos when I saw them in the book… but your logic is making me rethink them. I don’t like spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute either, so I’ve kinda been on the fence about spaghetti squash in general. Might have to give it a try!

    • jackiegrandy says

      Hey girl! Yes, I love it and I think I’m just going to suck it up and buy it. I have already stained the library’s copy, shhhhh…. I still have yet to make the beer braised beef short ribs that you made. I’m a bit intimidated to try that recipe. Cooking red meat really intimidates me so I usually leave that up to John to do. GIve these a try, you might change your mind about spaghetti squash tacos!

  3. says

    yeah i was patiently waiting..not really…lol. now i just have to find some spaghetti squash. i love trying different recipes…especially for meatfree monday so this is going to be perfect. i love the pictures of your kids eating them up…that is so adorable.

    also love your pictures jackie…gorgeous!

  4. says

    These are unbelievably delicious, I agree – I made them for my parents who are meat and potato folk and they were shocked at how much they loved them. Your photos are beautiful!

    • jackiegrandy says

      Hi Erin! Now, that’s what I like to hear! Meat and potato folks digging spaghetti squash tacos! I’m so happy that they were well received by all! Thanks for the compliment regarding the photos :) Tacos are one of the more difficult things to photograph! It took me about 100 shots and different angles to get those shots!

  5. Janine says

    These were fabulous! I finally got my reserved copy of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook from the library this week!!

    • jackiegrandy says

      Great new Janie! I’m so glad you liked the tacos. Let me know what else you make from the cookbook! I only made that one recipe because I had to get the book back to the library, as they had a long list of people waiting for it. :)

  6. TammyF. says

    I made these last night. They are so gooood! They were so easy to prepare that I made homemade corn tortillas to put the filling in. They were not so pretty but they tasted great. Can’t wait to try some more tasty and easy recipes. My husband enjoyed them very much also. Thanks

    • jackiegrandy says

      Hi Tammy! I’m so happy that these tacos were a hit in your house and that they were hubby approved. Homemade corn tortillas sound amazing! I made homemade taco shells one time from soft corn tortillas, but have not attempted to make homemade tortillas yet, you go girl! xoxo, Jackie

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