Spiced Butternut Squash Tacos, and Chaia, a DC fresh taco flavor experience not to be missed
A limited number of firm, almost beige outer cored, unblemished butternut squash sat slotted in between piles of other brightly colored fresh produce at the Asian market last week.
Inspired by a recent impressive tasting experience of delicious Butternut Squash Tacos when attending the Ninth Salute to Women in Gastronomy, called ‘Celebrating Food’ hosted by the Les Dames d’ Escoffier Washington, DC, Chapter held at the Shady Grove campus at the University of Maryland.
I decided to prepare from the inspired memory this unique use of a fresh vegetable and prepare these colorful, tasty Butternut Squash Tacos for sharing today.
The concept of building tacos using fresh seasonal ingredients have been gaining in popularity of late and why not? It tastes great and it’s healthy too.
In today’s recipe, we’ll use store bought, locally produced, corn tortillas, a bit of red pepper, onion, and jalapeno with a few Mexican style spices.
Now as a must- try alert to DC readers looking for an exceptionally flavored fresh vegetable taco experience of dreams you will definitely want to taste test the tacos of Chaia whose acclaimed culinary success within vegetarian Latin American influence has been widely praised.
Though Chaia plans a landmark location in its future, currently these small, fresh, round, tasty specialties are only sold at area DC Pop Ups and Farmers Markets.
Preparing and rolling their own homemade corn tortillas then topping them with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients has put Chaia (formerly Chaya) on the food map with kudos from even the Washington Post marking the female owners of Chaia, Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon among the nine up and coming tastemakers in the DC area.
While waiting in the line of buzz at the sampling station I also took note from the corner of my eye some other magazine and PR materials with positive reviews about Chaia. After just one bite of their freshly made squash tacos lined with brightly colored micro greens, I easily understood why. Wow.
You can view the Chaia website here and by looking under the tab of upcoming events you can view where Chaia will be serving up their fabulous and fresh tacos next.
Meanwhile, since it is winter and I’m not making the usual twice weekly trips to DC like in the fall during the field hockey season, for now I’ll enjoy the preparation of these simple and tasty Spiced Butternut Squash Tacos inspired through the talent at Chaia.
- 2 medium sized Butternut Squash, about 2 1/2 pounds cooked according to either of two directions below
- 1 small red onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped finely
- 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped finely
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- coarse kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
- 1 1/2 cups micro greens, scant handful per taco
- handful cilantro leaves
- 8 corn tortillas, small eight inch size
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and fibrous string in cavity
- Set butternut squash onto a parchment lined baking sheet, brush generously with olive oil sprinkle with a couple pinches each of salt and pepper Roast squash until tender, around forty minutes, when a fork is easily inserted all the way through, remove from oven, let sit until cool to touch Remove any remaining excess stringiness inside the cavity then cut the meat of the squash from the skin into small bite-sized pieces
- Tumble diced red onion, red pepper and jalapeno into a large sized heated saute pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil, cook on very low heat for five minutes
- Sprinkle in the chili powder, cayenne, and cumin, stir, heat for another minute
- Gently stir in the squash cubes, cook two minutes to warm through, sprinkle in a couple pinches each of salt and pepper, check seasoning, adjust to taste Assembling the Butternut Squash Tacos: Scatter micro-greens onto the center bottom of each corn tortilla, top with the butternut squash mixture, garnish with cilantro leaves