Curry Acorn Squash and Tempeh Tacos
This recipe was one I started playing with when acorn squash first showed up early fall last year. Typically, with winter squash my instinct is to go sweet with ingredients like balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. But inspired by the curry dusted tofu tacos I was missing from Tako Cheena in Orlando, I decided to try a savory taco. Focusing on the savory warmth of the curry powder, this recipe highlights the natural flavor of the squash with hints of the warming spices.
For the protein, these tacos use tempeh. As we all have our go to recipes and flavor combinations. I typically go to tempeh bacon for marinating tempeh any time I want tempeh in a meal. But trying to mix things up and tie the tempeh to the flavors in the squash, I use Garam Masala (spice blend available at most grocery stores or mixed from your spice cabinet).
Curry Acorn Squash and Tempeh Tacos
Yields: 6-10 tacos depending on tortilla size
1 Acorn Squash (peeled and diced)*
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
1 Tbsp Neutral Oil
½ + 1 tsp Garam Masala (divided)
½ tsp Ground Ginger
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Nutritional Yeast
½ tsp Kosher Salt
14-16 oz Tempeh
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
½ tsp Mustard
1.5 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Tortillas of Choice**
½ a Small Red Onion (finally diced)
Arugula or Spring Mix
Optional: ¼ tsp Monosodium glutamate***
* See post on how to easily disassemble acorn squash.
** If you can get freshly made corn tortillas that is prefered. Trader Joes has decent corn tortillas that stood up to many LA taquerias according the KCRW. But in a pinch flour will do.
*** I know there are strong feelings and miss information about MSG, I use it as a flavor enhancer, but it can be skipped. There is racist bad science on it causing headaches, check out the new reporting in recent years. If you’ve eaten Burger King, KFC, Chickflia, Doritos, Pringles, or Campbell’s noodle soup you’ve had MSG without knowing it and probably had no ill side effects.
Heat your oven to 375F.
In a mixing bowl, toss the acorn squash in the one tablespoon of oil. Then add in the curry powder, ½ tsp garam masala, turmeric, ground ginger, msg (if using), nutritional yeast, and salt. Toss to coat well.
Spread the squash on a well-greased half sheet pan (or two quarter sheet pans as pictured above).
Roast for 15 minutes, before flipping and roasting for another 10-15 minutes until edges are browned.
Slice the tempeh into 1/4” slices and then into bite size pieces. Combine the tempeh with the 1 tsp garam masala, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mustard, and maple syrup. Coat the tempeh and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
While the tempeh marinates, it is a good time to prep the other ingredients. If you do not like how punchy raw onion can have, place it in a bowl of water for five minutes before draining. Also, a good time to make the below sauce.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. In batches, brown the tempeh for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add more oil as needed between batches.
Assemble the tacos with squash on bottom, a portion of tempeh topped with the onion and greens and a drizzle of the sauce.
Cilantro Ginger Sauce
½ c Packed Cilantro (leaves and stems)
2 Tbsp Mayo
1 Lime Juiced
½” Ginger grated
Large pinch of salt
Jalapeno to taste
This sauce can be made by hand or in a small blender or food processer depending on your desired texture. Mincing by hand will be a looser sauce with flecks of cilantro, while pulsing in a machine will lead to a smoother sauce. So mince or pulse the cilantro and desired amount of jalapeno (I used only ¼).
Then add in the remaining ingredients and stir or pulse. Depending on the freshness of your lime and the thickness of your mayo, you may want to thin your sauce – it should be drizzle-able with a spoon. If it is too thick then thin with a little water, and if too thin for your taste the add a little more mayo.