Two weeks ago I left Connecticut for California. This past year I have traveled so often that leaving one place for another is usually hardly worth noting, but before this trip I had been in Connecticut for over two months straight—the longest amount of time I have been in one place in over two years. So leaving for Southern California actually felt novel and noteworthy! The Man and I took a couple of weeks visiting family and friends, ending up in Ojai where we spent Christmas with his family.
It was a fantastic trip. Family and friends were definitely the highlight, but tasty food came in a close second. We ate Hawaiian poke in Venice Beach, tacos in Leucadia, falafel and Thai food in LA, Spanish tapas in Claremont, and amazing holiday meals à la the Man's mom in Ojai. Let's just say that we don't have quite the same variety where we are in Connecticut...
When we got to Leucadia, I was on a fish taco mission. We sampled quite a few, of which one clearly stood out as the front runner. But I have to be honest, the best taco I tasted wasn't fish. It was vegetarian! Finding delicious vegetarian and vegan tacos can be a challenge. Without the meat or fish, tacos frequently lack substance. And since beans are often relegated to burrito-land, making tacos a nutritious, protein-packed, meatless meal isn't always successful when eating out. But this Leucadia veggie taco was different—packed with beans and full of flavor. I wish I could walk down the street and have it again!
But alas, snowy Ketchum is a ways from sunny California, so a home-cooked meal is definitely the solution. I created this recipe to give all the fish and meat-filled tacos a run for their money. I call for topping the squash with chèvre, but you can leave off the cheese for a vegan variation. These are great for a crowd since everyone can make the tacos themselves, and prep is pretty straightforward. Perfect for new years week, when it's all about having fun! Enjoy, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
ROAST WINTER SQUASH TACOS
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2- 14 ounce cans black beans, liquid reserved
- 3 1/2 lbs delicata squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch rings
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 3 cups spinach, loosely packed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fresh corn tortillas, warmed for serving
- avocado, cilantro leaves, and chèvre, for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until it begins to caramelize (about 20 minutes). Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and some liquid to loosen the mixture. Continue cooking just until the beans have warmed. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon oil, cinnamon, a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender inside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your skillet over medium heat. Add the jalapeño and cook until soft. Add the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.
To assemble, place a spoonful of the bean mixture onto a tortilla. Add a spoonful of spinach, and a few slices of squash. Top with sliced avocado, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and crumbled chèvre. Serve.