The inspiration behind these tacos comes from my love for all things pumpkin and squash. The bulk of the ingredients for this recipe are in-season right now in Central Illinois. And the best part? The squash in this recipe is an item that you can get right now at one of my favorite spots around, The Great Pumpkin Patch.
Did you know that The Great Pumpkin Patch has developed a really cool guide to help you find just the right squash? Whether it is for roasting, for dessert, or for seeds - their guide will lead you to the perfect squash for your recipe. It is from this guide that I came to know the Fordhook acorn squash. The Fordhook was first introduced in 1890 by W. Atlee Burpee (of the Burpee Seed Company). It was once thought to be extinct, but thanks to heirloom pumpkin propagators (like The Great Pumpkin Patch's Homestead Seeds Store), we can continue to enjoy this heirloom organic squash. The Fordhook is a tan, oblong squash of about 2 pounds in size (similar to the acorn squash) with a mildly-sweet flavor, perfect for my taco recipe!
Enjoy this recipe, friends! And remember, don't be afraid to try something new, or in this case, OLD (...a 128-years old)!
I've put an * by the items I can purchase at my Illinois farmers market.
1 heirloom acorn squash (such as the Fordhook), peeled and cut into 1/4" thick slices*
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
6 corn tortillas
1 bunch cilantro, chopped, for garnish*
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage, for garnish*
Crumbled goat cheese, for garnish*
picked red onions, for garnish (see recipe below)*
Pumpkin seed sauce, for garnish (see recipe below)*
Peel and halve the squash lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Cut the squash lengthwise into 1/4" thick pieces.
Place 1/4 of the flour into a large bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Add the squash and toss well to evenly coat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, paprika, and 3/4 cup water. This will make a thin batter - if it starts to thicken be sure to add more water!
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high; add some of the vegetable oil. Dip each slice of floured squash into the thin batter and carefully add the battered squash to the hot oil. Be sure to work in batches and don't put too many slice in the pan - don't want to overcrowd this squash party! Cook each squash slice for about 3 minutes on each side or until gold brown. Transfer the slices to a plate lined with a paper towel (to soak up any excess oil). Season with salt and pepper.
Toast your corn tortillas directly on the flame of your stovetop, about 15 seconds per side using tongs to flip. Alternatively, add the tortillas to a lightly oiled skillet and allow to heat for about 30 seconds on each side.
To serve, add a few slices of the cooked squash to the tortilla, garnish with pickled red onion (see recipe below), thinly sliced cabbage, a sprinkle of goat cheese, a pinch of cilantro, and a hearty drizzle of chipotle pumpkin seed sauce (see recipe below).
Serving size: Makes about 6 tacos.
HOW TO MAKE QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS
Thinly slice the red onion and stuff into a pint sized mason jar with a lid. In a small saucepan, stir together 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil. Be sure to stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the onions in the jar, until full. Place the lid on and allow to cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate overnight before serving. Quick pickled red onions keep in the fridge for up to a week.
HOW TO MAKE SIMPLE CHIPOTLE PUMPKIN SEED SAUCE
Sauté 1/2 medium yellow onion in extra virgin olive oil. Transfer the onion to a blender along with 1/2 cup hulless roasted pumpkin seeds with 1/4 cup vegetable stock, 2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano. Pulse until smooth and transfer back to the sauté pan and simmer over heat over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid it sticking to the pan. Use the sauce to drizzle over the tacos.