Taco Tuesday: Calabacitas

This edition of Taco Tuesday was inspired by tacos I had at El Pisto, which is now closed. El Pisto was Chef Bobby Griffing’s restaurant that served pricey southern Mexican cuisine in the historic downtown space that used to be La Nortena. The menu was a pleasant change from typical El Paso Mexican fare, but it was pricey and not at all veggie friendly. The black beans were refried in lard, and everything seemed to contain meat or animal products.

Once in awhile, we would go there for drinks and dollar tacos on Mondays. I would order the calabacita tacos, which were so simple and delicious. Calabacita literally translates to “little squash”, but usually refers to zucchini. At El Pisto, it was tender and buttery yellow squash seasoned only with salt and cilantro and topped with queso fresco in a handmade corn tortilla.

I miss El Pisto’s atmosphere and it saddens me that another local restaurant went under. Not sure what went wrong, but service was kind of spotty, food was inconsistent, and their hours seemed irregular. Even though they weren’t very veggie friendly, their menu did inspire me. It made me want to make my own tortillas and pay more attention to yellow squash.

You can still view the menu and pictures of El Pisto on their website.

This needs jalapenos or salsa ASAP!

Cilantro Lime Crema

This doesn’t really taste like sour cream, because of the pronounced soy taste, but it does have a tangy, rich creaminess with an added protein bonus. Once you add it to the tacos, you can’t really tell the difference. Use the aseptically packed tofu that’s not in the refrigerated section.

1 package of silken extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon canola oil (Or 2 tablespoons. I accidentally did.)
4-6 teaspoons fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
handful of cilantro (optional)

  1. Crumble the tofu into a food processor & process until smooth. Stop machine & scrape down sides.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Turn the machine on again & pour mixture in through the chute while the machine is running.
  3. Add cilantro, process, & transfer to a bowl. Chill. Keeps for up to 5 days.

Yellow Squash Saute

You can also use any other squash you have on hand. Use a large enough pan so that the squash isn’t overcrowded, or else the squash won’t cook evenly & the water from the squash won’t evaporate.

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread or oil
4 yellow squash, ½″ dice
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

Optional add ins: diced onion, diced tomato, diced jalapeno.

  1. Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add cumin & garlic. Cook until fragrant.
  3. Add squash & season with salt & pepper.
  4. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until tender, stirring often.
  5. Stir in cilantro & serve.

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