Growing up, I had my fair share of tacos. Okay, probably more than my fair share. But they came in three, and only three, different flavors: steak, ground beef, and chicken. And that’s it. Well, okay, there were a few breakfast tacos thrown in there too, but my non-breakfast tacos came in only those three versions. If you also grew up in Texas, you’re nodding along. If you grew up elsewhere, it’s possible that you find that odd.
Yet it’s true – Texans love their tacos, but we aren’t very adventurous with the fillings (at least we weren’t in the 1980’s). I was well into my twenties when I tried my first fish taco, and when I told my mom about it, her reaction was along the lines of “You ate what???”
So …. drum roll please … this was my very first vegetarian taco. (Yes, the breakfast tacos always included bacon or sausage, so those cannot be counted.) I had seriously never eaten one before I made this recipe! I don’t know if I should feel proud or ashamed. But when and where I grew up, vegetarian tacos were simply not done.
I’m glad I have broken that mold and tried one. It won’t be my last meat-free taco. I found it delicious and light, full of familiar Mexican flavors but without the Tex-Mex grease that occasionally hitches a ride to the tortilla. There was definitely some love there.
So let’s talk spaghetti squash for a moment. I love it, and I think it’s cool. I love how it starts out as this hard, uncompromising lump of a vegetable, and then turns into silky, tender strands of yumminess with just your fork once it’s cooked. I love doing the fork shred thing, it’s so fun! As much as I love it though, I wasn’t sure how spaghetti squash was going to fare in a Mexican staple. But Mexicans do use lots of squash in their cooking, so it was quite a good fit. The taste was vegetarian, but the texture was so hearty it almost felt like eating shredded meat. I would definitely make this meal again! Try it, (even you Texans), and see what you think.
3 lb. spaghetti squash
Olive or canola oil
2 tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Kosher salt and black pepper
16 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed until pliable
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. crumbled Cotija or queso fresco
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Brush a baking sheet with oil and place the squash halves face down. Discard the seeds. Roast the squash for 40 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool slightly. Working over a bowl, use a fork to scrape out the flesh in strands. Discard the skin.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Pour over the squash and toss gently to coat. Taste the squash and adjust the seasonings if need be.
To serve, take a warm tortilla and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of black beans, 2 tablespoons of the spiced squash, 2 teaspoons of cheese, a couple pinches each of onions and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges.