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Meatless Monday - Creamy Zucchini, Corn and Roasted Poblanos Taco Filling

What’s your favorite radio station? Mine is WABE, it’s our local NPR station here in Atlanta and they have some really great programing. Yes, I’m an NPR junkie. One program that I really love is called The Splendid Table because the host covers a huge amount of information having to do with food. Not just cooking it but serving it (try hand crafted dishes for serving, they are great) the politics of growing and importing it. The list goes on and on. I won’t bore you, just find it and listen for yourself then let me know what you think.

Anyway, I while back I was listening to the program and became interested in this recipe. Naturally I tried it and I loved it. Now it’s my turn to share it. You can find the recipe on the Splendid Table website here or just stay continue here. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe except to add some avocado.

Creamy Zucchini, Corn and Roasted Poblanos Taco Filling by Future Relics
The Filling Inside the Taco

Creamy Zucchini, Corn and Roasted Poblanos Taco Filling by Lori Buff
Creamy Zucchini, Corn and Roasted Poblanos Taco 

Calabacitas y Elote con Rajas y Crema

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 4 (about 1 pound total) zucchini, cut into cubes a little smaller than 1/2 inch
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups poblano rajas (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican crema
  • 1 sprig epazote, leaves removed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese
When I want a vegetarian soft taco filling, I heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. When really hot, I add the zucchini, stirring and turning the pieces frequently, until they are richly browned all over. That's when I add the corn kernels. I let that brown (which takes just a couple of minutes).
Then I scrape in the 2 cups of rajas, along with the sprig of epazote or chopped cilantro.
When everything comes to a simmer over medium heat, I add a couple tablespoons of crema (or one of its stand-ins) if I think the mixture needs it, taste the dish for salt and scrape it into a serving bowl.
Though it's not absolutely necessary, the mixture is delicious sprinkled with crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese.

Roasted Poblano Cream (Crema Poblana)

Makes about 4 servings
  • 4 (about 1 pound) medium fresh poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or heavy cream (if I’m planning on turning the rajas into soup, Greek-style yogurt is also an option)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
No matter how I’m ultimately going to use my poblanos and cream, I start by making what’s called rajas a la crema, Roasted Poblano Strips with Cream. If a gas flame (or charcoal fire) is available to me, I roast the poblano chiles directly over high heat, turning frequently.   
I want the heat intense so the tough skin of the chiles will blister and blacken before the flesh has softened too much—it shouldn’t take much more than 5 minutes to roast a chile on an open flame. (When using only one burner, I roast the poblanos in batches.) If only an electric stove is available, I heat the broiler, adjust the shelf as high as it will go, lay the chiles onto a baking sheet and slide them under the broiler. As they blister and blacken, I turn them until all are uniformly charred, about 10 minutes. (Broiler-roasting works fine, though the chiles’ flesh tends to get a little more cooked and takes on less smoky flavor than when flame-roasting.)  
Whether the chiles are broiler- or flame-roasted, when they are evenly blackened, I collect them in a bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel to trap a little steam to loosen the charred skin. (Some cooks put them in a plastic bag, but for me, that traps too much steamy heat, leading to flesh that’s softer—more cooked—than I like.) When the chiles have cooled enough to be handleable, I rub off their charred skin, remove the seed pod by pulling firmly on the stem, then rinse the peeled, seeded flesh briefly under cool water. Lastly, I slice the roasted chile into 1/4-inch strips. 
To finish the rajas a la crema, I heat the vegetable or olive oil over medium-high in a very large (12-inch) skillet. When hot, I add the white onion and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is richly browned, but still a little crunchy, about 7 minutes. Then I stir in the garlic cloves and the dried oregano.
After a minute or so, when the garlic is fragrant, I stir in the chile strips and Mexican crema. When the cream has thickened enough to coat the chiles nicely—that takes only a couple of minutes over the medium-high heat, though it needs to be stirred nearly constantly—I taste the mixture and season it with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. This is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat or fish tacos, to steak or pork chops, or to grilled, sautéed or broiled fish or chicken.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. this sounds delilcious; poblanos are my favorite, I broil them and when I take them out I put them in a bowl of cold water and can peel them sooner; if I want my salsa not too hot I leave out the seeds, hotter with the seeds. not sure if I can get the Splendid Table up here, very limited reception, I do watch Atlanta public programs on TV

    1. You may be able to get 88.1 or 97.7, they are some public radio stations that broadcast in that area. Or you can just keep up with Splendid Table on their site.


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