You don't come across vegetarian tacos all that often, but in the rare instances in which you do, they're often wonderful. For a long time my go-to was another Rick Bayless recipe involving swiss chard and caramelized onions; I'd put them in front of any meat eater any day. Searching for a recipe using corn and zucchini, I came across this second Bayless recipe, which is similarly excellent.
Why I Picked This Recipe: Craving both Mexican and something involving summer produce (corn, zucchini, and tomatoes), I settled on this recipe for its simple preparation and clean flavors.
What Worked: The base of this filling consists of fresh tomatoes pureed and cooked down until thick; mixed in with crema (sour cream or heavy cream are good substitutes), it makes for a rich, sweet-tart base for the filling. Strips of poblano add a smoky spiciness to complement the mild zucchini. What worked were the phenomenal flavors.
What Didn't: The ratio of zucchini to the other ingredients seemed a little uneven, and once I added it, there was so much that the mixture was dry. Easy fix, just add a little water—but keep that in mind when preparing this.
Suggested Tweaks: For a lighter version of this, full-fat plain yogurt would be a good subsitute for the crema or sour cream.
Adapted from Green City Market.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 pound fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 2/3 of a 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large fresh poblano chiles
- kernels cut from 1 large ear of corn (about 1 cup)
- 4 medium (about 1 ½ pounds) zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 5 cups total)
- 1 sprig fresh epazote, leaves removed or roughly chopped, or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2/3 cup crema, crème fraîche or heavy (whipping) cream
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) Mexican queso fresco or other crumbly fresh cheese like salted pressed farmer's cheese or feta
- 24 fresh, warm corn tortillas
In a large (5 quart) pot, heat the oil over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking.
Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a food processor and set aside.
Over an open flame or under a broiler, roast the poblano until the skin is charred all over, then put in a bowl and cover until the skin steams and loosens. Slip it off, rinse the flesh, and slice into thin strips.
When the onion is finished cooking, add the tomato puree, cover, and cook, stirring often, until thickened slightly.
Raise the heat to medium high and add the poblanos, corn, zucchini, cilantro, and crema (or substitute). Stir well to combine (adding a little water if necessary) and cook until the zucchini is soft but not mushy. Season to taste with salt.
Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the crumbled cheee. Serve with warm tortillas and more cheese for passing.