There’s still time
The cutest tortilleria just opened up close to our house, and I stopped by one recent afternoon to pick up some tortillas. I ordered at the counter, and then I waited for a few minutes. Soon a man emerged from the kitchen, carrying a bag that contained a wax paper and foil package – filled with so fresh they were still hot tortillas. People, I’m talking hot off the grill! They made them! Just for me! They were white and blistered and like no tortilla I’d ever had before. I took them home and filled them with a corn and zucchini saute, avocado cream, and roasted tomato salsa. And I’m not kidding, they were amazing.
This meal is really three recipes in one: the roasted salsa has a rich, deep flavor thanks to a quick trip under the broiler for the tomatoes and peppers. The avocado cream can be a dip, a sandwich spread, the base for a great dressing, or a topping for Mexican dishes. And the corn and zucchini filling – oh man – it can stand on it’s own as a side dish, be thrown into salads, be squished into quesadillas, or stuffed into burritos.
The salsa is easier to make than you could imagine, and endlessly forgiving and adaptable. Set the oven to broil, place some tomatoes and hot peppers (I’ve used both habaneros and jalepenos) on a rimmed baking sheet, and cook for 5-8 minutes, turning halfway through, until they have a nice char. Set them aside and let them cool. Thinly slice an onion and add it to some olive oil in a saucepan, along with a bit of salt. Once the onion begins to take on a bit of color, remove most of the skin from the tomatoes (it just slides right off), cut the peppers in half lengthwise, and add the tomatoes and peppers to the saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. The salsa should look something like this when you start:
But will ultimately break down, thicken, and reduce – resulting in something more like this:
I think it’s important to cook the corn and zucchini individually and then add them together. Zucchini can be a finicky partner – it’s high water content requires just the right temperature and cooking time. Combine onions and corn in a saute pan with some oil and cook over medium high heat (if you can get a nice blister on the corn it makes it even better), then scrape the corn out of the pan and add garlic and the zucchini, cooking again over medium high heat (adjusting to high heat if it seems like the zucchini is steaming rather than sauteing), add the corn back in, squeeze a lime over the top and season with salt and pepper.
The avocado cream is so simple is hardly requires a recipe – sliced avocado, lime juice, and sour cream are whizzed together in the food processor until thick and creamy.
I realize that summer is winding down, and that squash is prominently displayed in the markets right now, but it’s not too late to grab some late season tomatoes, corn, peppers and zucchini and make this. And please, do try to find fresh tortillas – they make all the difference.
Corn and Zucchini Tacos with Roasted Salsa and Avocado Cream
Salsa adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen
- 2 lbs tomatoes
- 2 hot peppers
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and halved
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 limes, halved, plus more for garnish
- 3 ears corn, kernels removed from cobs
- 1 large zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Additional toppings of your choice (I used green onions, habanero jack cheese and cilantro)
Preheat the oven to broil.
Place tomatoes and peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 5-8 minutes, turning halfway through. Skin should blacken in spots. Remove from oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, place half of the sliced onion with 1 Tbs olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to take on color. Halve the peppers lengthwise. Remove skin from the tomatoes (it should just slip right off). Add peppers, tomatoes, and any juices that have accumulated to the saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking tomatoes up with the back of a wooden spoon, until mixture has reduced and thickened.
Combine the juice of one lime with the avocado and sour cream in a food processor. Pulse until thick and creamy.
Place a skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Add the remaining olive oil, the onion, and the corn. Cook for 4-6 minutes. Scrape mixture into bowl and set aside. Add the zucchini and garlic to the same pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, making sure not to overcook zucchini (you want it to remain somewhat firm). Add corn mixture back into pan. Deglaze the pan with the juice of the remaining lime. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble tacos using all of the ingredients above plus any additional garnish (big stems of cilantro are a fantastic highlight to this dish). The following day I used the leftovers to make quesadillas and they were a definite hit.