Squachos! Squachos, squachos, squachos. How fun is that to say!? Every time I say that word around here, Etienne smirks. He actually thinks it’s a ridiculous concept, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from diving in to a pile of SQUACHOS whenever I make them for dinner.
Superbowl is here in a few days, and football fan or not, you may want to get into the spirit anyway with some game day eats and treats. These may not replace your beloved traditional nachos and cheese, but they do pack a powerful punch in terms of flavor and you can customize them however you want. Jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo salsa are the standard toppings for our squachos but I’ve also experimented with other flavor combos such as olives, tzatziki and lettuce.
When choosing your butternut squash for your own squachos, look for one with a long neck. You can slice through the part of the squash containing the seeds, but then your nachos will have holes….so….I suggest avoiding that scenario. I picture your dinner becoming as messy as my baby-led-weaning baby’s meal times. Toppings falling through holes, pico de gallo on your pants… I think you get the idea.
Slice the squash about 1/8″ thin. A mandolin would be perfect for this! Drizzle the sliced squash with a bit of olive oil and using 2 parchment lined baking sheets, pop them into the oven in a single layer for about 12 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, begin sautéing the onion with the garlic, and then add the beef and beans and brown completely, breaking it into small pieces as you go. I like to brown my beef in a cast iron skillet; in fact, I use my Lodge cast iron skillet for most of my frying. The seasonings added to the beef give it a bit of heat, so if you don’t love spice you might want to reduce the amount of cayenne; likewise, if you want to ramp up the heat then add more!
If you want to make pico de gallo salsa to compliment your squachos, you can prepare it in advance. This classic recipe uses fresh tomato, onion, jalapeno, green onion and cilantro. For less heat, leave the jalapeno out.
Assemble your squachos on one of the parchment lined baking pans beginning with the squash on the bottom, followed by the beef and then topped with cheese. I love to use jalapeno monetary jack cheese, but you could really use any flavor cheese. Broiling the squachos for 5 minutes will ensure the cheese is thoroughly melted and the squash and beef are nicely browned. Top your squachos with lettuce, pico de gallo salsa, jalapenos, sour cream, you name it! Get creative.
You could absolutely eat these with your hands, but the squash “chips” are not as hard and crispy as a regular nacho chip so I find it way easier to just use a knife and fork. Very proper, no?
Game day or not, your family will love digging into this health-ified version of nachos for dinner.
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Yield 4 servings
Game day or any day, a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional nachos using butternut squash
- 1 butternut squash, with a long neck
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 ground cumin
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- Toppings: chopped lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo salsa, jalapeno, green onion, olives
Pico De Gallo Salsa
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- Peel the butternut squash, and slice the neck into slices about 1/8" thick.
- Lightly coat the slices with 2 tbsp olive oil and arrange on the baking sheets, ensuring there is no overlap. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pan once. Allow to cool after cooking.
- While the squash cooks, heat the remaining tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet, and adding the onion and garlic, saute for 3 minutes
- Add the beef and cook until browned, breaking into smaller pieces while cooking. Drain some liquid if necessary
- Add the black beans and chili powder, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes
- Arrange the squash on one baking sheet, cover with the beef mixture and top with cheese. Broil under high heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and top with desired toppings.
- Enjoy immediately. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Pico De Gallo Salsa
- In a small bowl, combine and stir the tomato, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and green onion.
- Season with garlic powder, salt and lime juice, stirring to combine.
- Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- Use ground turkey or chicken as an alternative to beef.
- Substitute the monterey jack cheese with any mozzarella or cheddar for less heat.
- Make Ahead Tip: Brown the beef and cook the squash ahead of time, up to 1 day in advance. Assemble the squachos and broil before serving.