Squash boats nestled in salsa, filled with zesty taco meat, and topped with cheese. A new twist on taco night!
Everyone loves tacos, right? Right. This recipe is a new take on a taco, and a great way to get in a serving of vegetables. Same taco flavor you love and expect, just using a healthier, gluten-free alternative. I used yellow squash because I had a ton, but if you have zucchini feel free to use that instead! My husband doesn’t love yellow squash but he went back for seconds on this dish!
The meat in the boats is really flavorful due to a low-and-slow simmer in a homemade taco seasoning. Fear not–homemade does not have to equal complicated! It’s made with just cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. There’s no need for a taco seasoning packet filled with all sorts of additives when making your own is this simple! Chances are you already have those spices sitting in your pantry right this very moment.
To make the squash into “boats”, you have to spoon out the seeds in the middle. You can’t do this easily without cooking the squash first. Lucky for you I tried that method to see if I could skip a step and the answer is clear: NOPE! If you’re using zucchini, you might be able to do this with a melon baller while they’re raw. Regardless, you need to cook the boats before you stuff them because the final bake in the oven is not going to be long enough to cook them start to finish.
So, you have two options:
- Boil the squash halves in a pot of water for a few minutes.
- Bake the squash cut-side-down on a pan at 400F for about 12-15 minutes.
I prefer the second option for many reasons:
- It gives me time to cook the meat mixture while they’re baking, so I don’t have to multi-task too much.
- I actually think it enhances the flavor because you sprinkle them with oil, salt, and pepper before baking.
- I’m going to preheat the oven to 400F anyway, so that’s not an inconvenience.
- It reduces the final bake time because they’re more cooked through with this method.
- And finally, covering the pan with foil = no clean up, while boiling in water = a pot to clean up.
Let’s be honest, that last point was the real reason. : )
But, if you’d rather boil the halves then go for it! Either way, let them cool before you scoop out the seeds in the middle.
Would you try this? Does your family have a taco night? Let me know in the comment section below. I see a lot of “Taco Tuesday” posts on social media. I love experimenting in the kitchen a liiiiiiittle too much to dedicate an entire meal every week to the same dish, but I can definitely see the appeal!
Taco Stuffed Squash.
- 4-6 squash or zucchini depending on size (I had a couple tiny ones so I used 6), cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2-3/4 cup mild salsa
- 1 lb 93% lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1/2 bell pepper, minced
- 4 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro, for topping
1). Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Lightly drizzle squash with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash face down on the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fork-tender. Allow them to cool a few minutes until they aren’t too hot to touch, then use a spoon to scoop out the center of each half. Reserve this to add to the meat mixture (optional).
2). While the squash is baking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meat. Add the onion and bell pepper. When the meat is no longer pink, add the spices, leftover squash, tomato sauce, 1/4 cup salsa and water. Stir, cover, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
3). Meanwhile, spread about 1/4-1/2 cup salsa in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange the squash boats in the baking dish. Add 1/3 cup of meat to each boat, then sprinkle with about 1 tbsp cheese and some fresh cilantro. Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Serving size: 2 halves. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 286 Fat: 12g Carbs: 18g Fiber: 5g Protein: 28g Points+: 7
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/07/taco-stuffed-zucchini-boats.html