Pro cooking tip of the day: If you stuff really good things (a Southwest-spiced blend of ground turkey, black beans, veggies, and cheese, for example) inside of another good thing (spaghetti squash), you can end up with an EVEN BETTER THING —> Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats.
I know. How did I get this job?
In all seriousness, stuffing vegetables with all types of tasty fillings has become one of my favorite ways to use seasonal produce. It’s familiar territory worth visiting again and again.
Why I Love This Taco Spaghetti Squash
- Stuffed vegetables are filling. This Taco Spaghetti Squash recipe offers a whopping 29 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per boat. I found about two-thirds of one stuffed spaghetti squash kept me full an entire afternoon, an impressive feat considering I am usually ready to eat an entire box of granola bars by 3 p.m.
- Stuffed vegetables can be adapted throughout the seasons. On my list this fall: Stuffed Butternut Squash with Quinoa and Cranberries and Spaghetti Squash Boats with Chicken and Bacon. Next summer? Italian-style Stuffed Zucchini, Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers.
- You’re getting an extra serving of veg without even trying. Looking to add one more serving of veggies to your day? This Taco Spaghetti Squash (and all stuffed veggie recipes) builds it in automatically.
- Clean up is minimal.
- Delicious factor is maximal.
I served these Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats to friends who concluded that 1) it was the best way they’d ever eaten spaghetti squash and 2) I must be on a mission to turn everything into a taco (the last meal I’d brought over to their house was a slow cooker taco casserole). I happily accept both compliments!
The taco-inspired filling is spiced with chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin. Ground turkey and black beans make it lean, healthy, and satisfying. It’s also easy to adapt. Feel free to mix in other veggies (I used red bell peppers, but green bell peppers, spinach, or even very finely chopped carrots would also work), swap the ground turkey for ground chicken, and adjust the level of spice to your liking.
- To Make Dairy Free. To make the recipe dairy free, you can simply omit the cheese.
- To Make Vegetarian. Try replacing the turkey with a different type of beans (red kidney would be nice) or even crumbled tofu. If you use tofu, I’d recommend upping the spices to taste, since it can be a bit bland on its own.
More Spaghetti Squash Recipes
Finally, in true taco style, don’t forget the fixins. We enjoyed ours with avocado, cilantro, and a big dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt, my healthy swap for sour cream.
Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats
- FOR THE SQUASH:
- 3 medium spaghetti squash about 2 pounds each
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey 93% lean or chicken
- 1 bunch scallions about 6, chopped, with white and green parts divided
- 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can black beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in their juices (14 ounces)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar Monterey jack, cheddar jack, or pepper jack cheese, divided
- For serving: chopped fresh cilantro diced avocado, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast the spaghetti squash according to this recipe for Roasted Spaghetti Squash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, all of the white parts and half of the green parts of the green onion, bell pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat, until it is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the black beans and fire-roasted tomatoes. Increase the heat to high and cook until the mixture is thickened and most of the tomato juice has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.
- Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to shred and fluff the inside flesh so it’s no longer attached to the walls and makes a “nest.” Divide the taco filling evenly among the boats, using a fork to lightly mix it with the spaghetti squash. Arrange the stuffed squash on baking sheets and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake until the cheesy is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve hot, sprinkled with any desired toppings.
- The squash can be roasted and “shredded” up to 1 day in advance. The entire dish can be assembled up to 1 day in advance as well. Bake as directed just before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Reheat in the oven or gently in the microwave. I do not recommend freezing the fully assembled boats, as the spaghetti squash will become mushy.
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