I have a friend who recently went vegan, and ever since has been swearing up and down that pulled spaghetti squash tacos are the best thing ever. Finally, with fall here and spaghetti squash everywhere, I got around to whipping up a batch of my own. They were not what I expected at all. That’s okay though! They were delicious and that always works for me.
If you have any experience working with jackfruit, you probably know that it doesn’t take much to create a convincing meatless version of pulled pork. Stringy texture and neutral flavor are about all you need. So one would think spaghetti squash would be a perfect pulled pork substitute right? Well, yes and no. You know how spaghetti squash also seems like a perfect spaghetti substitute, and it is, because it’s got the whole noodley thing going on, but in reality it tastes very little like spaghetti. Well the same is pretty much true for pulled spaghetti squash. It’s stringy and tender, but it doesn’t taste like pulled pork. But, as is the case with spaghetti squash served up spaghetti-style, spaghetti squash served up pulled pork style is tasty in its own right.
One of the nice things about using spaghetti squash for this type of taco material is that it’s ridiculously easy to whip up. I like to roast my spaghetti squash up whole, because that’s way easier than attacking it with a knife when it’s raw. When the squash is just finished cooking, begin simmering up some sauce on the stove. Then when the squash is cool you scrape it out, throw it in the sauce, and start pulling.
Since it was so incredibly easy to whip this up, I went out of my way and made a creamy avocado slaw to stuff into my tacos along with it. Avocado makes an awesome creamy dairy-free base for the slaw, and it gives a contrast to the sweet and savory flavors in the pulled squash. If you’re feeling lazy I’m sure a few handfuls of your favorite greens would go nicely too.
For the pulled spaghetti squash:
- 2 pounds spaghetti squash about 1 medium size
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- A few dashes of cayenne pepper to taste
For the avocado slaw:
For the tacos:
- 6 to 8 corn tortillas or taco shells
To make the pulled spaghetti squash:
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a knife, then place on a baking sheet. Bake until easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- While the spaghetti squash cools, coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, until very fragrant. Add water, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, liquid smoke and cumin. Stir until smooth and well blended. Bring the mixture to a simmer, lower heat and allow to cook at a low simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, adding a splash more of water if the mixture becomes too thick. Remove from heat.
- When spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and inner pulp, then scoop out the inner flesh and add to the sauce mixture. Using a fork, pull the mixture into strands, and then stir a few times, until squash is evenly coated with sauce.
To make the avocado slaw:
- Place avocado, garlic and cider vinegar into a food processor bowl fitted with an S-blade, and process until smooth. Thin with 3 to 4 tablespoons of milk, as needed. Place cabbage, carrots, scallions and cilantro into a medium bowl. Add avocado mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the tacos:
- If using corn tortillas, warm them up by placing each one into a hot skillet for 30 seconds or so. Divide pulled spaghetti squash and avocado slaw among tortillas or shells, stuff and serve.