This week we’re making a new type of taco, one that’s veggie-powered and rainbow-colored!
Most recipes for butternut squash turn this lovely winter squash into soup, casseroles, or roasted into little cubes for use in a pilaf-type recipe, like in my Butternut Squash Couscous Pilaf. These recipes are great ways to use the squash, but I wanted to do something really different. Also, it’s still pretty hot here, so I wanted a recipe that was light and colorful, using a fresh rainbow of veggies in partnership with the richness of the squash. So here we have a totally new way to do tacos.
Before diving into the recipe, I want to share my secrets about recipe creation with you. First, I choose a veggie to feature during our weekly videos, usually in partnership with the Oahu Fresh team.
Second, I do an online search for the vegetable via image search: this gives me an opportunity to quickly find a specific type of recipe that looks good, without having to do any reading. Once I find an image I like (for example, butternut squash TACOS) I then take a recipe from my online archive and adjust it to make it work for this specific veggie. Once I saw the picture for butternut squash tacos, I then used my California Tacos recipe from a few years ago, added some tweaks, and crafted this yummy meal.
I wanted to share this process because often people ask how I create new recipes each week. Many folks have told me that they feel uninspired to cook new recipes each week–that they are stuck in a recipe rut or don’t feel inspired. However, I really believe that anyone can do what I do. Yes, I’m creative with food, but also I have lots of help from Google, and I have many years of cooking experience, which helps me pull ideas together from my cooking practice over the years. I really believe that you, too, can become wildly creative with your meals, with just a little planning and research.
A few notes about this recipe: if you’ve never prepared a big ole butternut before, please watch my video from a few months ago to get the best tips for preparing a butternut. In this recipe I don’t talk about these tips or practices, so if you need a refresher, click here. Also note, for this recipe I didn’t peel the squash; the tiny cube size ensures the skin cooks well and the skin is edible. Of course, you can peel the squash if you like, and I’d definitely recommend peeling for most recipes. You can also make this recipe with kabocha, which is my favorite squash (and one you don’t have to peel, either)!
Butternut Squash Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped red onions
2 cups cubed butternut squash
Splash of water, for cooking
1 teaspoon chili powder or taco seasoning
½ teaspoon each ground cumin and sea salt
½ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (soaked for one hour in water, if needed)
½ cup chopped black olives
1-2 cups chopped fresh yellow or green zucchini
1-2 cups spinach of chopped kale
6-8 organic corn tortillas for serving
Finely chopped red cabbage for serving, optional
Creamy Avocado Cilantro Sauce
1 perfectly ripe avocado
½ cup minced cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste
Cayenne to taste
Water, as needed for texture
- Warm olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add onions and cook on medium heat until just soft, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add butternut to pan. Toss to coat, and then let cook for a full five minutes to slightly brown the squash.
- Add a splash of water and cover, letting squash soften.
- Remove cover, add spices, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives, and toss to combine. Remove from skillet and add to a large bowl.
- To the same skillet, add zucchini and cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach/kale, and cook until bright green and wilted. You can combine these with the squash mixture or keep separate.
- Meanwhile, make Avocado Sauce. Blend up avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt and cayenne (if using) in food processor or blender, adding a few teaspoons water to make a totally smooth sauce. Alternatively, mash with a fork and call it guacamole!
- Warm tortillas in toaster oven, in a skillet or microwave until just warm.
- Add squash filling to tacos, drizzle with sauce, garnish with cabbage, and serve immediately.
- Leftovers will keep for at least 3 days in the fridge.
Yield: 4-6 tacos