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Calabacitas Mexicanas

Bring the fresh spring Mexican flavors to your table with this delicious dish, leave the sour cream and cheese out or to the side and you have an amazing Vegan – Vegetarian dish.


1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 pound (2 medium-large round or 6 to 8 plum) ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped OR two-thirds of a 28-ounce can good-quality fire-roasted tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large fresh poblano chiles

1 large ear corn, husked and kernels cut off (about 1 cup) OR 1 cup frozen corn

4 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds total) zucchini—or use the Mexican round or teardrop-shaped, light green calabacitas—trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups cubes)

1 sprig epazote, leaves roughly chopped OR 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2/3 cup Mexican crema, crème fraîche or heavy (whipping) cream

½ cup crumbled Mexican Queso Fresco or other crumble fresh cheese, such as salted pressed farmer's cheese or feta

24 warm fresh corn tortillas to form the tacos


1. Preparing the flavoring base. Measure the oil into a large (12-inch) skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned, about 8 minutes. While the onion is cooking, coarsely puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic to the browned onion, cook 1 minute, stirring, then add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. (Cover the skillet if you think it’s reducing and thickening too fast.) Remove from the heat.

2. Roasting the chiles. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly until the skin has blistered and blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for open flame, about 10 minutes for broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin, then pull out the stem and seed pod. Rinse briefly to remove stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/2-inch strips.

3. Finishing the dish. Uncover the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir in the poblano, corn, zucchini, epazote (or cilantro) and the crema (or one of its stand-ins). Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is crisp-tender and the liquid has thickened enough to coat the vegetables nicely, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Serve in a decorative bowl, sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and pass the hot tortillas separately for do-it-yourself tacos.

Happy Cooking!

Chef Martin Lopez

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