Jul 3, 2008

Roasted Baby Squash Tacos

A few weeks ago, I ran across some little baby squashes at the Animal Farm stand at the Wednesday farmers' market. What is it about mini versions of things that are so appealing? These have a sweet, delicate flavor, but stand up to strong treatment like roasting. So we roasted them with some sweet onions and poblanos and had some mighty fine tacos. I thought they'd make a tasty, healthy taco for a quick dinner. I have to say we were really surprised by how good these were. We've been making them every week since.

I intended to make them with a green sauce and a crumble of Mexican cheese. It's hot and I was too lazy to get out my Rick Bayliss books to make my own green sauce. Another time. So I planned to just pick up some jarred tomatillo sauce. But I made a new discovery that goes perfectly with the flavor of the squashes... Central Market's new Hatch chile green sauce. It's a mild tomatillo sauce with Hatch chiles from New Mexico.

It's hard to miss Hatch chiles in Austin. Chuy's has special Hatch chile dishes on their menu in late summer and Central Market roasts them for sale and makes all kinds of things with them from burger buns to sausages to crabcakes to pesto.

But those of you outside of Texas may not be as familiar with them. Hatch is a town in New Mexico just northwest of El Paso famous for the Hatch Chile Festival every Labor Day weekend. I bet there's some really good food at that festival, but if you don't want to go that far, look for them locally towards the end of summer. We buy them already roasted from Central Market in mild and hot varieties and keep them in the freezer to use year round.

But back to the sauce. It turned out to be the perfect green sauce for these tacos. It gave them a little kick without overpowering the roasted squash and sweet onions. Get some fresh corn tortillas from El Milagro in East Austin and you will transform these into food of the gods. Really freshly made corn tortillas are a thing of beauty. They elevate this taco.

Roasted Baby Squash Tacos

1 lb. baby squashes
2 poblano peppers
1 sweet onion (Vidalia or 1015), cut into large half rings
olive oil or canola oil
salt and pepper
queso fresco or cojita cheese
tomatillo green sauce of your choice
fresh corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (In the summer we use the toaster oven so won't heat the whole house up.) Place squashes, poblanos and onions on a roasting pan. Drizzle with a little oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven about 15-20 minutes until all the veggies take on as much roasty brown goodness and soften as much as you'd like. (You can alternatively, roast the peppers over the hot flame of a gas stove and then add them to the veg. mix after.)

Put your tortillas in a tortilla warmer lined with a damp kitchen towel (or just the towel if you don't have a warmer) and sprinkle them with a little water. Wrap the towel over them, close them up and microwave in 20 second increments until they are hot and steamy.

To assemble tacos: place 3-4 squashes, some onions and peppers in a tortilla. (You can double up your tortilla to maintain structural integrity, if you'd like.) Drizzle with some green sauce, crumble some cheese over the top, add as much cilantro as you like and enjoy.

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