Tuesday, February 15, 2011

iCarly's Spaghetti Tacos ... Spaghetti SQUASH Tacos, That Is

Back in October, I read an article in The New York Times about legions of iCarly fans who were begging their parents to make a dish that had been featured on the show, which is a colossal tween favorite: Spaghetti Tacos.

Dan Schneider, the creator of Nickelodeon's iCarly, is the genius (no, I'm not kidding -- consider what a phenomenon all of this is!) behind the joke of the spaghetti tacos as a dinner option. They've now become all the rage at birthday and slumber parties, and are precisely what you think they'd be -- taco shells filled with noodles à la Chef Boyardee.


But in reading further about variations on the dish -- some with meat, some with oversized shells, and some (like those of my blogging buddy Dan, of The Haggis and The Herring) using linguine and cheese sauce to accommodate family preferences -- the notion of somehow making them appetizing and edible kept gnawing at me. There had to be a way! There had to be some way to make these less repulsive, more nutritious, and something that adults could eat, as well.

And then my epiphany struck: spaghetti squash. I'll use spaghetti squash!!! That still makes it a spaghetti taco, right???

So I baked up a squash, then coated the spaghetti-like strands with taco seasoning to make the basis of the filling. Top it all off with the usual accoutrements of lettuce, cheese, salsa, etc., and you've actually got yourself a nutritious vegetarian meal.

And so, now for the big question: how did the tacos taste ...?

They were pretty good! I can't promise that I'd ever make them again, as I'm a pretty big fan of beef and chicken tacos and I don't have any iCarly fans in my house clamoring to eat like their favorite t.v. star. But they definitely made an excellent, though messy, dinner.

I had bought Trader Joe's taco seasoning, which was heavy on the cumin and not as high in sodium as other mixes; it had a very good flavor which was exceptionally well suited to the sweetness of the squash. The squash didn't overpower any of the other parts of the dish, but every so often there was just a hint of it shining through. With the exception of the filling being so different from the norm, otherwise these were just good ol'-fashioned familiar comfort food, falling apart as they were bitten into ... part of the joy of tacos!

Spaghetti Squash Tacos

1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
12 taco shells
shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped tomatoes
chopped scallions
fresh salsa
sour cream

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9"x13" baking pan.

Cut the squash in half horizontally, and scrape out the seeds.

Place the squash cut-side down into the prepared baking pan and bake for 50 minutes until very tender.

Scrape out the flesh of the squash, and place it into the dish you just baked it in, discarding the shell. (Who needs another bowl to wash??? The baking pan is already dirty.) Combine the oil and the taco seasoning to make a paste.

Spread the seasoning over the squash, then use 2 forks to toss the squash with the mixture until the squash is coated evenly.

Meanwhile, heat the taco shells according to package directions.

Place some of the squash into the taco shells; top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, scallions, salsa, guacamole and sour cream as desired.

Makes 12 tacos, and you may have some extra squash left over for burritos or nachos or quesadillas or anything else your little heart desires.

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Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I have to say that I agree with you, I'm a chicken or beef in my tacos kind of girl, but I DO love spaghetti squash. Now if only I could convince my children to eat it!

Angela said...

That's a spaghetti taco I might actually eat--though I am still intrigued by the idea of "put some spaghetti in a taco shell and call it something new." When we were young my brother sometimes ate spaghetti sandwiches, after all.

Sheila said...

Hmmmm, very interesting! Can you tell I don't have kids since I've never heard of spaghetti tacos or iCarly? haha I'm so out of it! I'm still hanging on to your Spinach Spaghetti Squash recipe, which is out of this world! :)

TexaGermaFinlaNadian said...

Yes, very interesting indeed. I love spaghetti squash and I love tacos, so I guess I shouldn't knock it until I try it! You're too funny posting on this, great idea

b. lee said...

sooo COOL * seriously my girls would LOVE this! thank u :D

Unknown said...

Wow..now I see what I miss out on by not having kids!! :) This sounds very odd, but yet intriguing enough where I've got to try it now!!

Unknown said...

Looks like it turned out great!

I remember we had discussed spaghetti squash as an idea to make it different (and possibly more appetizing).

I'm glad you finally got the chance to make it. I also like that you used the taco seasoning to make it more authentic tex-mex (rather than pasta sauce).

Actually, using squash (a winter/fall vegetable) would make those tacos an excellent tex-mex Thanksgiving dish!

Kirsten said...

That looks awesome!
Following from the Totally Tuesday hop. Come visit me at www.random-utterances.com.
See you soon!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

I still have about 15 spaghetti squash that I grew this past summer hanging out. Just waiting for SOMETHING to be done with them. I like the idea of making taco filling for them, different & I might get my kid to try it.

Ashley R said...

Wow, I've never heard of this!!

Following from the Totally Tuesday Blog Hop! I'd love it if you'd follow me back too! :)

Lots of reviews and giveaways, and a hand made event coming up! Please check it out! :)

~The Reynolds Mom~

Cranberry Morning said...

I don't know. I can't fathom spaghetti in a taco, but another vegetable in the taco might be a good thing. Spaghetti squash? I've had it, years ago, and as long as no one's expecting pasta, it's pretty good stuff! (Kinda like carob. Carob is carob. Don't tell me it taste like chocolate and I won't set my expectations too high.)

Desi said...

I am following from the I Love My Online Friends Monday hop. I too have a food blog, follow back if you want!


P.S. - I love your blog name!

Karen Harris said...

Well, I love spaghetti squash and I love tacos so. . . I might have to make these for my daughter. I suppose that these would still work as soft tacos as those are her preference. You are so fun! I bet Jeremy has some fun stories of when he was growing up with you as a mom.

Beth Zimmerman said...

You went through the line twice when they were installing the creativity gene, didn't you!

Lynne said...

Thanks for the great recipe, it's a good way to sneak in some veggies with my boys ;) I am a new follower from Tag Back Tuesday, feel free to stop by and say hi!


Golden Daily Scoop said...

Hi, I'm your newest follower! I have two girls that are the biggest fans of iCarly and I happen to have a huge spag. squash in my fridge! Thanks for the recipe, we'll have to give it a try. Looking forward to following you! :)

Robin said...

You are so creative. My mother would have appreciated this back in the day when my dad had a huge garden and grew more squash than we could give away. Now, I just eat chicken or turkey burger tacos. LOL. I do appreciate how clever you are, though.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I've heard of spaghetti tacos, but then again I don't know anyone in the age bracket that would watch that show. The thought of noodles in a taco sounds disgusting.

However, I do love squash.....and even had some tonight. And no, not in tacos. :) But if I was going to eat spaghetti tacos, it would be your version. Yours sound way better!

Miriam said...

You're an absolute genius Mary, I love it! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Candace said...

I'm pretty much a fan of anything in a taco shell or wrapped in a tortilla.....but I don't know about traditional spaghetti. I think taco seasoning would taste great on the squash. I've never thought to give it anything other than an Italian flavor. That's pretty cool, Mary!

a moderate life said...

Yenta mary, I am laughing so hard my sides are going to split! My two daughters are huge Icarly fans and have been bugging me to make spaghetti tacos for years! I have to admit to having spaghetti sandwiches as a kid with left overs, but we mixed in the meat sauce with the noodles and it was delicious on left over italian bread! I love your idea of using spaghetti squash! Thanks so much for sharing this on the hearth and soul hop! All the best! alex

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