BY ASHA LOUPY @ https://www.bonappetit.com/
Inspired by the beloved street snack from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, these vegetarian vampiro tacos (warmed and crisped tortillas that get covered with melted cheese before being topped) swap out the classic carne asada for thin caramelized pieces of kabocha squash seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper. Here the corn tortillas are topped with lots of Oaxaca cheese and cooked in a skillet until the edges become crisp and crackly—think somewhere between a quesadilla and a tostada. The tacos are served with a bright cucumber pico de gallo made even zippier by a hearty dose of lime zest, giving it supercharged citrus flavor to balance the sweetness of the squash and the richness of the cheese.
This recipe works great with winter squash of all kinds, from delicata to honeynut. The roasting time may vary based on the type of squash you’re using, so just make sure to keep an eye on it if you’re switching things up.
• 1 small kabocha squash (about 1¼ lb.), halved, seeds removed
• 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp. smoked paprika
• 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt
• 1½ tsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. ground coriander
• ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
SALSA AND ASSEMBLY
• 1 English hothouse cucumber
• 2 limes
• 1 small red onion, finely chopped
• 1–2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
• 1 cup chopped cilantro
• 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
• 8 oz. Oaxaca cheese
• 12 small corn tortillas
• Nonstick vegetable oil spray
• Crema Mexicana or sour cream (for serving)
• Preheat oven to 450°.
• Cut 1 small kabocha squash (about 1¼ lb.), halved, seeds removed, into 1½"-thick wedges, then slice crosswise into ¼"-thick pieces.
• Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. (If you can’t fit squash in a single layer, use 2 baking sheets.)
• Drizzle 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil over and sprinkle with 2 tsp. smoked paprika, 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, 1½ tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper; toss to coat evenly. Spread out into a single layer.
• Roast squash, turning halfway through, until tender and golden brown, 22–27 minutes.
SALSA AND ASSEMBLY
• While the squash is roasting, cut 1 English hothouse cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon: discard.
• Finely chop cucumber and place in a small bowl.
• Finely grate zest from 2 limes into bowl.
• Cut limes in half and squeeze in juice from 3 halves.
• Add 1 small red onion, finely chopped, 1–2 serrano chiles, finely chopped, depending on how hot your chiles are and your heat preference, 1 cup chopped cilantro, and 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt and mix to combine.
• Taste cucumber salsa and season with more salt if needed. Cut remaining ½ lime into wedges; set aside for serving.
• Grate 8 oz. Oaxaca cheese on the large holes of a box grater.
• Heat a dry large nonstick skillet over medium.
• Arrange 4 or 5 pieces roasted squash in pan in a circle about the size of tortillas, then sprinkle 3 Tbsp. cheese over.
• Top with 1 of 12 small corn tortillas and gently press down on it.
• Build 1 or 2 more tacos in pan, depending on the size of your skillet.
• Lightly coat tortillas with nonstick vegetable oil spray and cook until cheese is melted and light golden around edges, 1½–2 minutes.
• Turn over and cook on other sides until tortillas start to crisp, 2–3 minutes.
• Transfer tacos to plates. Repeat process, working in batch of 2 or 3, to make 12 tacos total.
• Serve tacos with cucumber salsa, crema Mexicana or sour cream, and reserved lime wedges.