Yesterday was one of those dank, gloomy days, a rainy Monday which left me feeling particularly uninspired. Mike filled me in on his Greenmarket haul early in the day, and while I knew everything he had picked up would be beautiful, I just couldn’t decide what to do with it. Here I was with an abundance of fresh summer produce, and all I wanted was comfort food. I was stuck, and stayed that way for most of the day, but then I had a thought – a memory of a dish my Grandma used to make (and probably still does) which would give me the best of both worlds. It was a stew of sorts, tender pieces of chicken cooked with zucchini and corn and a light tomatoey broth that she called calabacita.
A quick search of the internets revealed that there are about as many variations of this dish as there are Mexican grandmas, so I felt okay about doing an adaptation of my own. Since we try to eat meatless dinners most Monday nights, I thought I’d omit the chicken and let the veggies play the starring role. I’d cook the vegetable mixture so that it would still be a little saucy but not too much so, and would spoon it into warmed tortillas with a bit of grated cheese and a topping of crema. It turned out to be an excellent use of our summer squashes, sweet corn and tomatoes, a light meal that brought out the best of these vegetables and also took me back to the warmth and comfort of my Grandma’s kitchen.
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, cored and chopped
2 medium summer squash, chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
12 warmed tortillas (corn or flour, though I think flour tortillas hold up better to juicy fillings like this)
Grated Mexican cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella-like Oaxaca and salty aged Cotija)
Additional chopped fresh cilantro
Mexican crema, crème fraiche or thinned sour cream
Heat the oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until softened. Add the garlic and tomato, an additional pinch of salt and the oregano. Stir and cover, cooking until the tomato is very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and corn and another pinch of salt, stir well and cook for another 3-5 minutes, uncovered, until the squash is tender and most of the liquid has reduced. Off the heat, add lime juice and cilantro, and spoon the mixture into warmed tortillas, topping with grated cheese, crema and additional cilantro.