Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Taco Pie

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Taco Pie

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Christine Gallary
Jan 10, 2017
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Taco pie is simple — the spiced ground beef filling we all know and love on top of something starchy, baked up with a thick layer of cheese — but what if you replaced the starch with something a little lighter? What if we packed more vegetables into this Tex-Mex treat?

Instead of building this pie on crescent rolls or tortillas, we've roasted up a favorite winter veggie to make a gluten-free, single-serve taco boat that's also a one-dish meal — perfect for a bracing winter night.

Meet the hearty yet wholesome dinner that will be your new favorite this winter: spaghetti squash taco pie.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

For This Taco Pie, Ditch the Taco Seasoning

With just a few basic spices (cumin, chili powder, paprika, and coriander), you can make a tasty ground beef taco filling without resorting to buying a packet of taco seasoning. Taco seasoning can contain a lot of salt or a combination of ingredients that aren't as fresh and tasty as single spices, so blending your own mix is worth the little bit of extra measuring you have to do. You can also use this same blend for chicken or beef fajitas.

To make this dish weeknight-friendly, you have a few options. Instead of roasting the squash, cook it in the microwave and then finish it in the oven after it's filled. You can also opt to assemble the squashes ahead but do the final baking right before eating for the best results.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Spaghetti Squash Taco Pie

Serves 4 generously

Cooking spray or oil
2 medium spaghetti squash (about 5 pounds total)
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup water
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Optional toppings: sliced scallions, pico de gallo, sour cream, fresh cilantro, hot sauce

Arrange a rack in the middle the oven and heat to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray or oil; set aside.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Mix 1 tablespoon of the oil with 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin in a small bowl, then brush the cut sides of the squashes with the spiced oil, using it all. Season the squash generously with salt. Lay the squash cut-side down in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Roast until soft when poked with a fork, 45 to 60 minutes. (Alternatively, cook the squash in the microwave.) While the squash is roasting, cook the filling.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. If there is a lot of grease in the pan at this point, drain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and return the drained beef back to the pan over medium heat.

Add the red bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, paprika, coriander, and cayenne if using and stir to coat the beef. Add the water, stir to combine, and simmer until the flavors meld, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with more salt as needed.

When the squash is ready, place the baking sheet on a wire rack. Flip the squash halves over with tongs, then use a fork to shred the inside of each squash half, leaving about 1/2 inch of unshredded squash left in the shell. Divide the ground beef mixture among the squash shells and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

Bake uncovered until the beef mixture is heated through and the cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes more. Serve with the toppings.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The stuffed, unbaked squashes can be covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time.
  • Storage: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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