Monday, November 12, 2012

Soft Tacos with Sautéed Winter Squash and Chipotles


With such bold, intense flavors, it’s hard to believe that this Soft Tacos with Sautéed Winter Squash and Chipotles recipe only contains five ingredients.  On top of that, the dish only takes about 15 minutes to prepare, making it the perfect contender for a quick, on-the-go fiery dinner. I put it to the test in a rush last week: with 25 minutes between getting home from work and my yoga class, could I prep and eat in time?? Done and done, with five minutes to spare! (Which ended up being allocated to running around the apartment, grabbing random props to hold up my tacos in proper shape for the picture. I promise, these taste better than they look in my photographs. Check out the original recipe for a far superior photo.)

Chipotles are a wonderful, piquant pepper to cook with. Gringo alert: if you’re not one to stomach spicy, this recipe is probably not for you! Their powerful, smoky essence eliminates the need for any additional spices in the dish. In fact, the accompanying ingredients in this dish serve to neutralize the intensity of its flavors: a mild, caramelized winter squash and plain yogurt help cull down the spice a bit. Warm corn tortillas add extra Mexican flare to complement the chipotle peppers.
As this recipe hails from the New York Time’s “Recipes for Health” section, these tacos are stuffed with nutritious abundance: Significant sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, manganese and folate can be found in every bite. And let’s not forget the shell! Corn tortillas are actually 100% whole-grain, with significant sources of fiber and vitamin B3. They only contain about 45 calories each, so don’t feel guilty to reach for that extra taco. Try to find authentic corn tortillas that don’t add any fat or oil to them, which compromises their health value.
I added onions along with the squash (fine, that makes an ingredient count of 6) because I just love caramelized onions in tandem with butternut squash. I recommend using Greek yogurt for its rich, thick consistency. I didn’t add any other toppings to the tacos, but thought lime wedges and cilantro as a garnish could be nice for next time.

Soft Tacos with Sautéed Winter Squash and Chipotles (from NYT)
Yield: 8 tacos, serving 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut or banana squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced*
Salt to taste
2 to 4 chipotle chiles in adobo (to taste), removed from the adobo and minced
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
¼ cup Mexican queso ranchero or feta
8 corn tortillas
Optional garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro

*If using onions, add and cook along with the squash, but stir more frequently in the skillet to prevent onions from browning to quickly.

Directions:
1. Cook the squash. Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the squash and onions, if desired in a single layer. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook five minutes or until the squash is nicely browned on one side; shake the pan to turn the squash or use tongs. Cook for another five to 10 minutes, shaking the pan often or stirring with a wooden spoon, until the squash is nicely browned and tender when pierced by a knife or skewer. Season to taste with salt, and transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining olive oil, onion and squash.
2. When the second batch of squash is tender, return the first batch of squash to the pan and stir everything together. Add the chipotles, and toss in the pan for one more minute. Remove from the heat, stir for a minute and then stir in the yogurt. Keep warm while you heat the tortillas, but don’t allow the yogurt to boil or it will curdle.
3. Heat the tortillas. Fill the bottom of a steamer with 1/2 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in a heavy kitchen towel, and place in the steamer basket above the boiling water. Cover tightly and steam one minute, then turn off the heat but do not uncover. Let stand for 15 minutes. You can also heat the tortillas in the microwave to save time. Wrap each tortilla in a damp paper towel, and microwave for 15 seconds.
4. Pass the hot tortillas, and top with the squash. Sprinkle on the queso fresco and cilantro (optional), and serve with lime wedges if desired. Fold the tortillas over and enjoy.

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