Winter Squash Chalupa with Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

It’s no secret that I love fall.  So part of my culinary mission this time of year is to incorporate as many fall ingredients into my menu as I can.  This often translates into taking old favorites and re-inventing them. 

I grew up in San Antonio so my default food is Tex-Mex.  The trio of hot peppers, cool cilantro, and the bite of white onions can do no wrong, in my opinion.  So how to combine the flavors of fall with Tex-Mex? 

The 6 tomatillos included in my CSA share this week were begging to be made into salsa.  I also had a lovely red kuri winter squash in my pantry.  A few weeks ago, I roasted another red kuri, which made a beautifully orange-tinted mexican chicken soup (which I intend to post soon).  The roasted kuri had such a nice, smooth texture that today I began to think that perhaps the squash could act as a stand-in for refried beans.  A winter squash chalupa.  Hmmm…this just might work.

The results?  Very different, but surprisingly fresh and addicting.  The squash adds a sweeter taste than beans, but the tomatillo salsa balanced out the sweetness nicely.  I was frankly delighted to find another way to use winter squash.  My two taste testers, my preschooler and my fourth grader, gave it their marks of approval.  My three-year-old, however, ate hers with squash and meat only. 

Winter Squash Chalupa with Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

roasted red kuri winter squash

Preparing the squash:  Cut your squash in half and place cut halves on a roasting pan, skin side up.  Prick a few times with a fork and roast at 375F until tender.  If you use a red kuri, check after 3o minutes.  Cool and mash with salt and pepper. 

While you are waiting for the squash to roast, you can start preparing the rest of the chalupa ingredients.

Five-Tomatillo Salsa

There are lots of recipes for tomatillo salsa, but they almost always require cooking the tomatillos. I had thought for a long time that tomatillos had to be cooked, but a Rick Bayless recipe proved otherwise.   He gave the option for cooked tomatillos or using them raw. When cooked, the tomatillo changes from fresh and “green-y” tasting to a sweeter, sour flavor.   I prefer the fresh, raw taste.  And, as usual, I adapted the recipe to increase the onion and cilantro, just because those two ingredients make me happy.

5-6 tomatillos, husked and well rinsed until waxy coating is removed

1/3 large white onion

1-2 hot peppers (serrano, jalapeno)

handful of cilantro

sea salt to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely blended.

tomatillo salsa

Winter Squash Chalupa

1 pound ground beef

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup shredded white cheese

1/4 cabbage, shredded finely

Turn on the oven to broil.  Brown the beef in a frying pan over medium heat.  When browned, add the spices and salt and stir for one minute more.  Add 1/4 cup of water and turn to low.  Simmer until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more.  You may need to add more water but the point is to end up with a moist, slightly saucy ground meat. 

Take each chalupa shell and spread a layer of  mashed squash.  Top with cheese and then the ground beef.  Put under the broiler until edges are crispy and the cheese is melted.  Watch carefully for burning! 

Top each chalupa with sliced cabbage and tomatillo salsa.  Make just before serving, as the squash will make the chalupa shell a little soggy if it sits for too long. 

Fall-inspired Tex-Mex

[A NOTE TO MY SUBSCRIBERS:  I was appalled the other day to discover that my entire posts get sent in the body of the email upon publishing.  I had thought only a link was sent.  The reason this appalled me is because I get rather hasty and eager after writing and usually hit the publish button before I finish editing.    Sorry for all of the typos and misspellings.  No more lazy leisurely post-published editing for me!]

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About Jill Thaxton

Wife, mom, writer, cook, professional Googler. I can't seem to narrow my interests to one topic, but love to ponder people, culture, faith, health, food, relationships, and science. I specialize in minutiae. Oh, and I will forever regret quitting piano, in case you were interested.
This entry was posted in eating local, Gluten Free, Recipes for Fall, Recipes for Winter, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Winter Squash Chalupa with Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

  1. Lisa says:

    This is an awesome idea to use the winter squash instead of beans! Hah! I am all about finding bean substitutes but still getting that “filling” feeling in, if you know what i mean. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us! Oh, and I know what you mean about the fast editing when you’re blogging…well, I just have decided to give myself grace. As one fellow notes in his e-newsletters I get “typos are my gift to you” – so why can’t mine be too? 😉

  2. sahfoodie says:

    Love the recipe for the tomatillo salsa. And the idea of not having to cook those things makes me very happy!

  3. Jill Thaxton says:

    @Lisa…just be sure and use one of the “drier” squashes. I really like the Red Kuri with mexican flavors.

    @sahfoodie…I learned something over Thanksgiving. Make sure you wash *all* of the waxiness off of the tomatillos. My batch of tomatillos were waxier than the last and I didn’t wash all of the wax off and the salsa was VERY bitter!

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