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Creamy Calabacitas Tacos with Handcrafted Corn Tortillas

Written By Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Denicole On August 19, 2013

calabacitas tacos

Steamed or sautéed fresh veggies are pure perfection, but consider a tasty taco filled with crisp-tender grilled veggies with a creamy reduction of chipotle adobo sauce. Calabacitas, a traditional Southwestern mix of peppers, corn, onion and zucchini make a savory veggie taco – and with handcrafted corn tortillas, the dish dazzles.

Make the leap and buy a tortilla press (you can find a lightweight model for around $5). They slip easily into any kitchen drawer and will give you the best results. Fresh “masa,” the Spanish word for dough, is optimal. If you live near a Latin market that makes fresh tortillas, you can probably purchase fresh masa. If not, buy masa harina which is made from dried masa. Press on!

Creamy Calabacitas Tacos with Handcrafted Corn Tortillas

Serves 4-6

2 cups masa harina corn flour, preferably yellow

1/2 teaspoon salt

11/2 to 2 cups warm water

2 medium green zucchini squash, thinly sliced diagonally

2 medium yellow zucchini squash, thinly sliced diagonally

2 red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 ears corn

Coarse salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Juice of 1 lime

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

2 chipotle peppers, minced (optional)


For serving:

2 cups crumbled goat cheese

1 small red onion, slivered

Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, to taste

Hulled pumpkin seeds, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and the salt, stirring to distribute evenly. Gradually add water, mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a large ball. Using your hands, knead for about 1 minute. The masa should be firm and springy, not sticky or too dry. Add more flour or water to achieve the right consistency. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Divide the dough into 2-inch balls (there should be around a dozen), covering with plastic wrap to keep moist. Press dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Once flattened, the tortillas should measure between 5 and 6 inches in diameter. Carefully remove tortilla from plastic wrap and place on dry skillet. Cook 30 seconds, then flip and cook for 1 minute, flipping once more for another 30 seconds. Place tortilla in a clean towel, covering completely.  Repeat until all tortillas are cooked.

In a large mixing bowl, toss zucchini and bell peppers in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; brush corn with remaining oil. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin, tossing to combine. Drizzle with lime juice. 

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, adobo sauce and minced chipotle, if using. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and reduce sauce by half, stirring occasionally.

As sauce reduces, grill veggies to desired doneness. Cut cooked corn from cob and slice bell peppers into strips. Keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, top warm tortillas with veggies, creamy adobo sauce, goat cheese, slivered onion, cilantro and pumpkin seeds. Leftover tortillas can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 2 days, reheat them in a microwave for about 30 seconds. 

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