Mexican and Italian foods are my absolute favorite. I actually think I could eat a taco salad or spaghetti every night for supper and be happy. Just because I am eating cleaner and healthier doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice taste or Mexican or even Italian food. It just means that I cook…a bit more creative and a lot more healthy! I discovered recently that I love acorn squash. I love it so much, that I decided I would dry the seeds to plant and grow my own! I’ll let you know how our attempt at growing our own deliciousness turns out this fall when we harvest them.
So if you love Mexican food as much as I do, I think you’ll love this sweet and spicy take on the traditional taco salad. Keep in mind that you can alter this dish to fit your own spicy needs. In other words, you can make it as spicy as your palate can handle. My favorite Acorn Squash Taco Boat thus far includes the following ingredients;
- One acorn squash serves two
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- I use no salt, but you can substitute with salt…one sprinkle of iodized salt
- Sprinkle or fresh ground black pepper
- Sprinkle of paprika
To Bake the Squash:
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Clean out the seeds and stringy middle of the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the squash to prevent the squash from becoming too dry during the baking. Sprinkle with salt, or no salt if you are watching your sodium, black pepper and paprika. If you are baking in the oven, pre-heat oven to 350 and gently spray pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper and place the squash inside down on the pan and bake 45 minutes or until tender when a fork is inserted. If you choose to bake your squash in the microwave, follow the same process above when seasoning and place inside face up and bake for five minutes and check to ensure the squash is tender. Remember microwaves vary in cooking time. If the inside of the squash is not tender, bake for an additional five minutes. When I microwave acorn squash, I typically bake it for ten minutes.
Ingredients for the Taco Filling:
- 1/4 quarter of an onion (I like red onions best)
- Small red pepper
- Four baby portobello mushrooms
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Meat of your choice (I like to use left over shredded boneless chicken breast, but have used beef as well)
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small yellow summer squash
- Two tablespoons of refried beans (you may also add rice of your choice, I’ve made it both ways. Love adding a tablespoon or two of leftover rice) you may also substitute with black beans this can be your own preference.
- 3 tablespoons of diced tomatoes
- One cup of baby spinach
- 1-2 tablespoons of Taco seasoning
- Fresh ground black pepper
- No salt or salt
- Shredded cheese of choice
- Optional tablespoon of sour cream
- Salsa of choice
- Half of an avocado
While the squash is baking:
While the squash is baking you will need to prepare meat, unless you are using leftover meat that only needs warming. Set aside and spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Heat pan, but don’t over heat. Add diced onion and peppers and a sprinkle of pepper and salt. Stir and cook but don’t allow them to caramelize. Add sliced or diced zucchini and squash and sauté until nearly tender, but still has a bit of a bite. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and add sliced portobello mushrooms and meat. If your meat is dry, such as chicken, you may need to add a little extra virgin olive oil as the mixture simmers due to the mushrooms soaking up the moisture. Once the mushrooms become tender add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and baby spinach. Allow to simmer at a low heat for eight to ten minutes and remove from the heat. You do not want the zucchini and squash to be overdone.
Remove the squash and allow to cool for about three to five minutes. You may use a fork to shred the inside of the squash or leave it in tact. I enjoy leaving it and taking bites of more chunky squash while I’m eating. Spread the refried beans over the inside of the squash (I have used leftover baked butternut squash as a bean substitute…it was an awesome twist) After spreading the beans over the squash spoon the delicious filling that you sautéed into the acorn boats and top with diced avocado, shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream. All that’s left to do is to enjoy!!
I hope you enjoy this delicious twist on the traditional taco salad as much as I have. Keep in mind that you can alter the recipe to fit your dietary needs, taste preferences, and or alter and make the recipe a recipe of your own. This is a great dish to clean out those leftovers that have a way of consuming our fridge. I enjoy shredding baked chicken breast for this dish as well as shredded baked turkey, and have used that leftover chicken burger or turkey burger as well. I have used shredded steak, and even used turkey sausage. That’s just one of the joys of cooking…creating a dish to be exactly what your palate is craving! You may also mint the meat for a delicious vegetarian meal. The possibilities are unlimited. If you like my take on Acorn Taco Boats, you will enjoy my twist on a Clean Spaghetti Boat.
I hope you enjoy my Acorn Squash Taco Boat. Please feel free to leave comments, or ask questions. I love hearing from my readers. Be sure to visit A Healthier Me Simple and Clean in upcoming days. I will be adding new recipes, canning recipes and tips, a book recommendation, and also an inspiring post that will motivate you to eat clean and enjoy the simple things in life. From the mountains of Kentucky, God bless each of you and thank you for stopping by my little corner of the world.