NewsRick Bayless's Tacos de Calabacitas a la Mexicana (Mexican-Style Zucchini Tacos)

Posted Apr 23, 2009

By Rick Bayless, Green City Market Board Member Emeritus

Makes about 6 cups, filling about 24 tacos, serving approximately 6.


  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 pound (6 to 8 plum or 2 medium-large round) ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped or 2/3 of a 28-ounce can good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large fresh poblano chiles
  • The kernels cut from 1 large ear of corn (about 1 cup)
  • 4 medium (about 1 ½ pounds) zucchini-or use the Mexican round or teardrop-shape, light-green calabacitas, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 5 cups of cubes)
  • The leaves from 1 sprig fresh epazote, roughly chopped OR 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup homemade crema, crème fraîche or heavy (whipping) cream
  • Salt
  • ½ 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


  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, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. 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 ¼-inch strips.
  3. Finishing the dish. Uncover the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir in the poblanos, 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, sprinkled with the crumbled cheese and pass the hot tortillas separately for do-it-yourself tacos.
  4. Working ahead: If you should find it helpful, the dish can be prepared a day ahead through Step 2; cover and refrigerate the mixture. Return the mixture to the skillet and finish Steps 3 and 4 just before serving.