Like all good Californians, I like to incorporate avocados into almost any dish (as long as the avocados aren’t cooked, that’s gross). The king of all avocado dishes is, of course, guacamole, but right behind it comes what’s often called guacamole salsa or avocado salsa – a thinner but still creamy version meant to be drizzled over tacos rather than eaten with chips (though you can do that too, sort of). This version is a staple at taco stores and also at my favorite chain, El Pollo Loco.

I tried to recreate it at home and it turned out pretty well, with most versions using tomatillo and water to create a thinner texture. So I was stunned when a friend sent me this YouTube video. It’s from the “Cooking With Paty” account, and in the video Paty promises to make avocado salsa without avocados. The video doesn’t portray this as a trick, but as a common cost-saving tactic for taquerias. I don’t know if it’s true, but the video describes itself as “The Secret of the Taco People,” which I find extremely charming.

The secret? Cooked green squash!

I wanted to do a test run to see if green squash, a little tomatillo, and jalapeño could actually make a viable avocado salsa and serve as an inexpensive alternative to avocado. To meet the challenge, I made both the real version and the paty imitator to see if I could fool my family.

The green squash I found at my local store was a bit larger than Paty’s. She used three large tomatillos, I used five small ones, but otherwise it was as similar as I could make it.

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