Spicy Butternut Squash Tacos with Caramelized Onions


On Saturday, we had a girls’ night at our place, so I was in the kitchen all afternoon stirring and cooking for the feast ahead. When this group of women get together I know two things: there will be much laughter, and we will eat VERY well. Both were true on Saturday, and by the end of the evening I was stuffed and feeling the food coma. I woke up this morning still feeling full and a little lethargic from all the food the night before.

We have to get a little creative cooking for this gang of feisty feminists – we’ve got me with my gluten-free lifestyle, and Kris who’s vegetarian. But is is a problem? – absolutely not! Even if the contestants on Top Chef seem completely stunned to have to cook a gluten-free or vegetarian meal, it’s certainly not a problem for our crew. I lose a little respect for chefs who show up to a competition without a stunning vegetarian or allergy-free menu in their back pocket – it’s not that hard!

For this gluten and meat free gathering, I focused on using up the three butternut squash that were hulking in the fridge. I wanted to go beyond the typical varieties of squash soup, and something heartier, and a little spicy. I decided to make some refried beans, and then roast the squash for tacos with homeade tortillas.

The tacos went over very well – there were groans of pleasure, and every single tortilla and bite of squash miraculously disappeared. The balance of the spicy chipotles with the sweet squash was perfect. I topped the tacos with Mexican cotija cheese, which is a bit like parmesan – a dry, hard cheese with a nice nuttiness and quite salty. In addition to the cheese, we topped the tacos with cilantro and oven caramelized onions. And I enjoyed the tacos so much, I did a re-run tonight, as I still had more squash in the fridge, and some leftover beans. If you love butternut squash, give this a try for a different way to utilize the bounty of autumn.

Butternut Squash Tacos
Serves 2

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
1 T olive oil
2 T chipotle en adobo puree
1/2 tsp salt

Garnishes:
oven roasted caramelized onions
cilantro
grated cotija cheese (use feta if you can’t get cotija where you live)

Serve with homeade tortillas (or store-bought) and beans.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a sheet pan with olive oil.
  2. Place the cubed squash in a large bowl, add the olive oil, chipotle puree and salt and toss to coat. Pour the squash onto the oiled sheet pan and spread the squash in one layer. Roast for 30 minutes, stir, and roast for 30 more minutes until the squash begins to caramelize.
  3. Serve the roasted squash with warm tortillas, cotija cheese, caramelized onions and cilantro.
  4. Caramelized Onions: To make the caramelized onions, slice two onions and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread onions on an oiled sheet pan, and roast at 350 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when a the onions begin to get a little bit crisp, and the onions taste sweet. Because the onions need to roast at a lower temperature, make these before you roast the squash.

Homeade tortillas: 55 cal/each 4″ tortilla
Roasted Squash: 114 cal per 3/4 cup serving

17 thoughts on “Spicy Butternut Squash Tacos with Caramelized Onions

  1. So this sounds so incredibly good – and easy too. Sounds like a great night and I'm sure some ice cream ended up on the table at the end of the meal.

  2. Thanks, ladies. I have to say, I think this is my new favorite taco recipe, and I would choose if over meat tacos. The combo of the cotija cheese, spicy squash and caramelized onions is pretty awesome.

  3. So while making my polenta, eggs and marinara recipe for dinner AGAIN tonight I started thinking about how good your butternut squash and carmelized onions would taste served over polenta.

  4. Holy crap those look awesome! I was drooling over the title alone. I love butternut squash, as well as mexican food. I've never thought to put the two of them together. Sounds delightful!And naturally there are your famous homemade tortillas. Yum!

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  7. These were delicious! I had never thought to use squash for tacos, but ’tis the season, so I gave it a try. A bit spicy for my taste – next time I’ll cut back even farther on the chipotle puree – but so good. I devoured three tacos before I even realized it and was stuffed. I added a bit of Greek yogurt to cool things down a bit. This was also a good reason to try cotija cheese – my local supermercado had three different brands and it was actually cheaper than feta.

    I will make these again (and again, and again). Thanks!

    • So glad you liked the tacos, Crysta! I made them Thursday night again…so good. I’ve been making them with Delicata squash – they’re smaller, so 2 of those make a perfect dinner for 2. Of course, leftovers are always tasty too. Try topping a salad with leftover squash and some goat cheese – YUM.

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