I would not say that previous to the last year, we were not taco people. I can think of several carnitas that have brought me nearly to tears (and definitely to tears when they stopped delivering) and we’ve been doing an egg-tortilla thing for years. But at some point in the last six months, I got bit with the taco bug bad and now I can hardly think of anything else to eat. Saturday afternoon and the toddler is napping and suddenly we’re hungry? Black bean tacos! Nothing but a couple zucchini in the produce drawer? Roasted zucchini tacos for dinner! I’m about thisclose to becoming the sort of person who puts peanut butter and jelly on a taco. The taco has become the answer to all questions.
It’s this obsession that finally got me to unearth a dish I’ve been meaning to put my spin on for two years. That’s more than a lifetime, if you’re this guy, and even he doesn’t know why it took me so long. The dish is called esquites and from what I understand but have sadly not yet experienced yet in person, it is a street snack in Mexico. Corn is cooked in butter with onions, garlic, chiles, an herb called epazote and salt. It’s then seasoned with lime juice, chile powder and served with mayo in small cups. Oh hi, are you still here? I’m not, because every time I read that description, I run to JFK and book the next flight to Mexico.
Although it’s not a traditional preparation, I was drawn to a chef’s riff on esquites in which he first charred half the corn over a gas flame, and added a crumbly, salty cheese instead of the traditional dollop of mayonnaise. But, I knew if I made it that way, it would be a side dish, an excellent one, but mostly something that required something else to pull it off as dinner. In a taco, however, it needs little else. It’s like I said: the taco answers all questions. I made a zucchini-radish slaw as a crunchy topping, mostly because I must be growing them in my fridge this summer; every time I use some up, more sprout in their place. Summer is like that, in the best way, so I vote for stuffing as much of it in a tortilla as we can before it’s up.
One year ago: Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin
Two years ago: Peach and Creme Fraiche Pie and Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons
Three years ago: Sauteed Sugar Snaps with Radishes and Dill
Four years ago: Red Pepper Soup (still one of my favorites!)
Charred Corn Tacos with Zucchini-Radish Slaw
Corn filling adapted from David Schuttenberg
The space between “seasoned vegetable side dish” and “taco dinner” can be filled with whatever delights you. It could be storebought or tomatotillo salsa, hot sauce, cilantro, sour cream or Mexican crema, diced tomatoes, salsa fresca, diced pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, shredded cabbage or a green onion slaw, avocado wedges, grated cheddar or jack or a crumbly, salty cheese and maybe a bib, especially if you have designs on using these all together. Keeping your favorites on hand means that all you need to cook in a pinch is the filling.
To bulk these up further, you might stir in some cooked and drained black beans. But we found them pretty shockingly filling without the beans.
1/2 pound red radishes (from about 2/3 of a bundle with stems and leaves), trimmed
1 small (4 to 5 ounces) zucchini, long and narrow if you can find it
4 ears corn, husks removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional if blistering tacos in skillet
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped epazote (if you can find it), cilantro or pasley (for the cilantro-averse) leaves (optional)
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces or 70 grams) crumbled cotija cheese (or another salty, crumbly cheese such as ricotta salata or feta)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
10 to 12 small (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cut radishes and zucchini into tiny matchsticks with a mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a peeler to peel thick ribbons down the long side of the zucchini. Stack the ribbons and cut them crosswise into thin matchsticks. Cut the radishes into a similar shape by hand. Toss radishes and zucchini together. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the radish and season with salt to taste. Add more lime juice if desired. Set aside.
Remove toddlers from the kitchen. Over a hot grill or an open gas-stove flame char two of the ears of corn until well-blackened but not completely burnt. If you’re using the burner method, you’ll probably, quickly, notice that corn likes to pop and snap, occasionally spraying you with splats of corn. It’s a little scary, which is I why I suggest you remove anyone small and easily harmed before you begin. However, I found the charred corn flavor to be completely worth the scare and hope you do too.
Remove cobs from heat, and when cool enough to handle, shave off kernels using a large knife and reserve. Remove kernels from remaining two ears of corn.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and oil together and once hot, add the onion. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the raw corn kernels and sauté until corn is just cooked through, about three to five minutes. Turn heat to high, add the charred kernels of corn to the mixture, and toss to combine until heated through. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the corn mixture, and use the juice to scrape up any stuck bits. Season the corn mixture with salt and chili powder. Stir in chopped herbs, if using.
You can heat your tortillas one of two ways. You can wrap the whole stack in foil and place it in a warm (250 degrees) oven for 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. However, I prefer to get a nice blister on them before filling them. Coat the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with olive oil and wipe it out so on the thinnest slick remains. Heat the skillet on high. Once hot, cook a tortilla for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, until lightly blistered. Repeat with remaining tortillas but if your skillet is well-seasoned, no need to repeat the oiling process.
Fill each taco with a few small spoonfuls of the corn mixture. Top with a spoonful of crumbled cheese and a bit of the radish-zucchini slaw. Serve with an extra lime wedge on the side (you’ll have half a lime left to slice up), and whatever fixings you like (sour cream, avocado wedges, etc. See above).
286 comments on charred corn tacos with zucchini-radish slaw
These sound great! I like the idea of the slaw to give it some crunch.
This looks amazingly good. Corn and zucchini are two of my favorite things about summer, and you can never go wrong with tacos! yum
Perfectly summery. I’m sure you get this a lot, but I absolutely love your photographs. Are the photos in your book going to be similar to the ones here (i.e. minimally styled and on the counter) or are you going with a different approach?
Stephanie — Thank you. Same photos, almost boringly so (i.e. I’m ready for some new kitchen scenery! Alas…).
I know what my boyfriend and i are going to be having for dinner tonight!!!! Love the idea of charing the corn!
I love the idea of the slaw, really makes it seem so perfect for summer. And the tacos look pretty darn good too!
What I want to know is, how do you keep your stove so clean! Tacos look amazing, too.
perfect! i now know what to do with my zucchini tonight! nom nom nom
These sound incredible. They seem like the perfect way to enjoy summers bounty!
These look terrific! I love all the different veggies, textures and flavors! Alas, we are in a state not part of the heat wave… lucky if it hits 68 today in Seattle, and we’re kinda sick of it!
This looks fantastic! I was looking at the corn at the Greenmarket yesterday, but for some reason my mind was drawing a total blank for ideas (beyond “on the cob”). I have a feeling this will be a huge hit – my husband is a fiend for anything Mexican-y, and my daughter (a few months younger than Jacob) is quite the foodie.
I’d been waiting for this post since I saw the photos up on flickr. I really need to hunt harder for cotija cheese…maybe I’ll hike up to the Latino neighborhood just west of me and see if I can find it there. I’d probably throw in some fish too (I have a mariande for fish tacos posted here: http://yellebellyboo.blogspot.com/2011/03/fish-tacos-with-latin-slaw-for-two.html)
That looks amazing! I do something along those lines where I grill it, roll it in a bit of crema and lime juice, then sprinkle it with salt, and chipotle chili powder. I’ve never thought of putting it in a taco though – the taco really is the answer to everything!
I am definitely one of those people who would make a pb&j taco, but yours sure look good too!
Dang. I want these now. If I had central air, I would make em tonight.
Deb, what kind of corn tortillas do you use? I have found some store bought ones to be so dry and blech that I can’t take them, but I love them at most restaurants.
Soft tortilla brand — Actually, I was going to mention that I’m kind of obsessed with this white corn tortilla brand that I bought randomly that’s totally not authentic given the weird ingredient list but still, delicious. When I Googled the brand, I learned they were low-carb or healthful (I can assure you, I was not shopping for either) but they have a great flavor and slight softness to them. They keep well too.
This looks like summer in a shell (a taco shell of course!) — will have to try this when I get back from the beach next week! I am glad you riffed on cheese, as I am not a mayo fan.
…These are right up my alley! I love dishes like this when it is this stifling hot out. Now with having a husband who thinks dinner is not dinner without meat, what do you suggest? Pulled beef? Grilled shrimp possibly? Shredded seasoned grilled chicken breast? Hmm, I’ll have to try this and see… :o)
…Thank you & I too love your photos!
…Stay cool and blessings too! :o)
I too have recently bitten bitten bad by the taco bug.
I think my problem began when I had to travel to Palm Springs for a work conference this spring — and was blown away by the Mexican food I ate there. (Imagine if I actually to Mexico! I might not be able to handle the delight.) I am now obsessed with trying to make the perfect — soft, light, chewy — corn tortilla and I think I am dreaming pork taco fillings . . .
I was excited when a Diana Kennedy book came in at the library for me yesterday, and now I’m excited that you’ve given a new Mexican! home to all my zucchini and radish, also breeding in the fridge up here on Vancouver Island.
Wow! I’m such a fan of grilled corn, and I never would have thought of doing it over the stove. I’m definitely going to try that as soon as corn shows up at the farmers’ market! Thanks for the great idea!
These look amazing – and I love the anything in a tortilla post. I’m gluten intolerant so I literally try anything even peanut butter and jelly in a corn tortilla and it is delicious (to me anyway) it’s amazing what one will do when desperate. Thanks for another yummy looking post!
I make grilled corn fairly often as a side dish and we have various types of tacos frequently (portabello mushrooms, fish, shrimp, etc). I never considered using corn as the main ingredient. I’ll definitely be trying these. thanks.
I fell in love with tacos, real tacos, when I went on a mission trip to Mexico when I was 16. I still remember my first el pastor taco, with pork and pineapple and cilantro, bought at a little taco stand on a corner in the middle of the ghetto in Cancun (which most of Cancun is), right down the street from the orphanage I was staying. The taco stand had pickled cactus, radishes in lime, little grilled onions, and who knows what else for toppings. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was years before I could find a decent taqueria, but Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana in Memphis is amazing.
I’ve been a taco lover since age 5 (family taco nights were my favorites) so I’m obviously always all about trying to find new awesome types of tacos (and/or Mexican food in general, actually). So what I’m trying to say is – adding these to the list!!!! Thanks for sharing!
we’re totally on the same page! last night i made some (fresh from the farmer’s market, finally) corn and black bean tacos, and turned the leftovers into a quesadilla sort of thing for lunch today, with the addition of a fried egg. and ‘breakfast tacos’ are in regular dinner rotation in our house. not to mention taco night, when i let my husband take over in the kitchen (he claims to cook meat better than i do, i happily oblige.)
“The taco answers all questions.” I like that. Have you thought about making your own corn or flour tortillas? They’re pretty easy, and it seems like something you might enjoy :)
Yum! You know… if you find yourself in Brooklyn you should check out La Superior. They have esquites and carnitas like you wouldn’t believe. Oh, and the margaritas are pretty great, too. And the fish taco. Best (traditional) Mexican food in NY.
Not that I’m not going to rush to the market so I can make your version tomorrow… :)
These seem delicious, and because I’m on a low-fat diet, they may actually do the trick. As far as your taco fetish, I man obsession, is concerned, you don’t have to travel to Mexico! Just come down to South Texas. I live about 30 minutes from the border, and we have taco stands at just about every street corner. Because of the large influx of south of the border immigrants, not just Mexicans, the demand for inexpensive, good food is high. You can even buy corn-in-a-cup at our local supermarket. Tacos come with tripe, bistek, fajitas, etc…topped with fresh avocado, white queso, onions, and cilantro. They’re served with a side of caramelized onions and a bowl of charro beans. Come on down!
Did I mention that we have tortillerias where you can pick up freshly made corn & flour tortillas-thru a drive-thru! Fill them with barbacoa and top with salsa verde or roja. Yummy!
Oh my gosh I was recently on a taco kick myself and discovered that swiss chard egg tacos are super delicious! There’s a huge Latino population here in LA, and people push carts selling elote (on the cob though) with lots of toppings. The esquites sound so amazing, would looove to visit Mexico for that.
i love that the second graf starts with “Remove toddlers from the kitchen.” that would be a most impossible task in my house, especially with corn on the cob cooking directly on the burner — that would be way more interesting than say, hugging (read: suffocating) the dog or splashing the toilet water.
Oh, I need to eat that right now!! What a great recipe! Thanks for sharing!
Great idea! Haven’t had tacos in a while, and I love the idea of charring the corn for the filling- so tasty.
Oh wow, tacos were always a staple in my house when I was a kid… and they still are today! I love the idea of charring the corn on the stove. So much easier than going all the way out to the grill :)
Yum! Charred corn can do no wrong and those tacos looks amazing! And a great way to use up some of the zucchini I’m drowning in!
Those look so good! We’re definitely on the taco bandwagon now too, although it kind of goes in waves where we go crazy over them and then settle down for a while before repeating. That slaw looks so good on your tacos. Yum :D
What if you have neither a grill nor a gas stove? Can the corn be done in a dry cast-iron skillet? Please don’t make me turn my oven on.
Also, have you seen August’s Bon Appetit? There’s a recipe in there a bit like this one: Roasted Corn with Manchego and Lime (p. 62) and a recipe for a chocolate-y peanut buttery pie (p. 82) that you guys would probably like.
Ariel — You might try heating a cast-iron skillet to super high, oiling it lightly and rolling the corn around in it until it chars. I saw the peanut butter pie! Looked yum but I’m not sure how I feel about honey and peanut butter together although I would pretty much make anything Kim Boyce bakes without questioning it. Didn’t see the corn, but it sounds delicious.
OH, veggie tacos with corn sound delicious and fresh and summery. Can’t wait to try cotija cheese! :-)
Love it when u guys are having summer, as we (the tropical hot all year round people) get to enjoy such lovely hot weather recipes :)
I just started reading your blog (and going back and pouring over all the old recipes) after I ate the most delicious peach and raspberry bars and saltines with carmel, chocolate and almonds that a friend found the recipes for here! I don’t bake much but love cooking and am OBSESSED with tacos so this is right up my alley! Thanks for the great idea. Am also wishing we had a gas stove…
I got bit by the taco bug too! I make my own corn tortillas with masa harina and store them in the freezer. A few extra ingredients and we’re in business! Love your use for zucchini–I’m overflowing with them even though I only planted 1 tiny little plant this year. Can I send you some? ;)
An easier way to heat the tortillas is to put them over an open flame of a gas stove. Once the first side is done (about 30 sec and charred) flip over and do the same on the other side. No need for washing another pan.
When I saw the first picture, I thought..okay, she’s gonna put that corn and tomato pie filling in a tortilla to wow us. Not quite, but now that charring the corn is stuck in my head, I’m going to use it when I make the corn and tomato pie, next time. After I make these, of course. Great idea using the zucchini in a slaw. I’d have never thought of that and do need ideas for the abundance we have from our garden.
Wow. Just wow! I am currently in NZ, and one of the things I miss most is good Mexican food. I lived in AZ for five years before coming here. This looks absolutely amazing! Sadly, summer veggies are not in style right now, but when they are back . . . this is going to be one of the first things I make. Thank you!
sigh . . . Deb, i do know that you’re married and all . . . and you have that super-cute-two-year-old-with-the-two-chubby-dimpled-thumbs-up hands (not to mention the curly locks of hair) . . . and i am very happily married to the professor . . . but would-you-could-you-marry-me (in a girl-crush kinda way) . . . and then come and cook all this fabulousness for me . . . i would happily do the dishes . . . sigh . . . i am finding a sudden and urgent need to forge out into 100 degree weather for the ingredients to make these . . .
Tacos are divine in every way. Love the charring technique, it seems so obvious now that I see you do it!
Tacos are the best ever…really, I could eat them all the livelong day!
Your post reminds me why I recently rekindled my love for tacos…it was the kind of dinner, as a kid, I remember my mom deciding to make on the spur of the moment. We would all be given something to do: one would grate the cheese, the other would chop the tomatoes. So simple, so tasty…*sigh* We never had them with corn, though. I may have to make this myself and send the recipe to my mother, too!
So being that we live in San Antonio, Texas the “taco” is part of my family’s daily consumption!! In fact, our lunch today was turkey and cheese “tacos” for the boys and a cheese tacos for my girls. My 11 year old son makes himself P B & J “tacos” all the time. But around here we just call them tortillas. I’ve been wanting to make homemade tortillas, we eat them soooo much! The kids will pull one out of the fridge just to snack on empty! But we use flour, not corn. My kids have never liked zuchinni (my husband either!), but I think this recipe would be a hit at our taco loving house!!
Yum, must try this! Also..please tell me how on earth do you keep your stove so clean?
Have you looked into making your own tortillas? I was shocked to find out the ingredient list on even the fresh tortillas contained hydrogenated oil.
I have only been a subscriber for a year or so, please forgive me if I have missed this – but have you ever made your own tortillas? If you haven’t you must, email me and I’ll send you Great Grandma Sofia’s recipe (origin: Aguascalientes). They are flour, which are easiest to start out.
So I happen to know for a fact that a little bacon is also delicious in corn and zucchini tacos. Just sayin’. Also, should you decide you can stand another limited-use item in your kitchen, a sturdy (aluminum or iron) tortilla press makes making homemade corn tortillas dead easty.
Oh, and I meant to add:
PB and honey >> PB&J.
I’m with Stephanie, your photos are exceptional, sometimes I think it’s the “storyline” and the photo rather than the recipe itself that draws me into baking from this site. Wish I had a taco right now!
Deb it looks amazing!
Just last week I was on a photographic tour of Mexico City and was photographing food in the outdoor food markets and I have never seen so.much.corn in all my life! It was everywhere!
In every imaginable form, with spices, without, with sauces, without, on the cob, off the cob, you name it, it was a cornfest!
Your food looks great, as usual.
One: I am forever changed by the knowledge that you can char corn on a gas stove. We have no direct access to the outdoors in my tiny apartment (in other words, no grill) and I have been CRAVING charred/grilled corn on the cob like no one’s business. Thank you for enlightening me.
Two: I have been eating peanut butter and jelly on soft tortillas since college. Best midnight snack EVER. It will change your life (much like this charred corn thing for me)!
I love the idea of meat free tacos. We lived in Mexico for awhile,straight from college and dirt poor. We lived off of dollar tacos and corn that was smothered in mayo, cheese, chili and lime – it was some of the best meals we have had.
I tried your smashed black bean tacos and fell in love with those so I am eager to experiment with some new fillings. Just toasting the tortilla in the pan makes a world of difference to the flavor and texture of the taco experience! Not sure if you are the backpacking type, but PB&J on tortillas is a staple when you don’t want to worry about your bread getting squished. Everything tastes better outdoors :)
I love the idea of a zucchini radish slaw! The radishes are very Mexican-authentic. Carne guisada can be served with sliced radishes and other kinds of Mexican-y things.
My husband and I both love tacos! This would make a perfect summer dinner for us.
That looks fantastic. Alas, I need to find friends to eat it with. (The family is way too picky when it comes to anything related to vegetables.) Though I’m thinking corn with Penzey’s Chili 9000 would be amazing. Ok, nevermind I put Chili 9000 on everything lately. I could wear it as a scent and be in heaven. ;) Spicy, sweet with a nice lingering makes you go hmmm taste.
Loved the unique and colorful combinations :)
Couldn’t you easily char the corn on the grill? Not sure if you didn’t have one at your disposal or if you strongly recommend the stovetop instead.
I’ve never made a taco recipe at home before but I can’t resist this one. Thanks.
Peanut butter tortillas are actually one of my favorite snacks. Peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and honey, peanut butter and slices of banana. I always liked tortillas more than I liked regular sandwich bread, and it’s awesome to use them for peanut butter-related things. Because peanut butter is awesome.
Yum! I heat my corn tortillas the same way you charred the corn, one at a time over a gas burner. I love the combination of corn, zucchini and onion. Have you tried calabacitas (sp?).
I love the colors of these tacos! The radish and zucchini add such a great punch of brightness. These would definitely be a welcome addition to my summer cooking menu. Yum!
My CSA is bursting with zucchini, so guess what I’ll be making this weekend!
We do peanut butter tacos! :) Peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and walnuts. We also do dessert tacos with chocolate chips, walnuts, raisins and sometimes butterscotch chips–I guess this is more like a dessert quesadilla since we warm it all up until the chocolate is gooey. I can’t wait to try your taco recipe; it looks refreshingly light and simple for summer.
Is there a particular mandoline that you like or would recommend? My little plastic one results in some slices whisper thin and others the size of texas!
How funny, this is been the summer of tacos for me too! If it’s too hot to be inside or we don’t have any specific plans we start throwing things on the grill and make tacos.
One of my friends takes the corn off the cobb, warms it in butter and parmesan cheese with salt and pepper and serves it as a side dish.
I love it! I think I’m going to put it in a taco!
the only thing wrong with your blog is that you live on the wrong side (the bottom) of the world. dont you know its actually the middle of winter?
These look fantastic! I wish I had a gas stove
Oh boy, these look amazing! I just purchased a tortilla press and have plans for homemade tortillas this weekend…chances are this will be the filling!
Any recipe that contains the word “charred” is bound to be delicious. “Remove toddlers from the kitchen” – hilarious!
it cracks me up you don’t like honey/pb combo! (um, I adore it. I almost always choose honey over jam with peanut butter :)
on another note- I made the slaw earlier and it’s just waiting for dinner- I went ahead and added in some cilantro and tomato to sit in the lime juice w/ the rest— can’t wait to put these together later! Thanks for such a fresh idea- I’m one in this dome of oppressive heat(in missouri)- over 100 today and high humidity. yuck!
I will also say, I went my whole life without eating radishes after a bad this looks like a cherry (but it was a radish) episode when I was 8 years old. Ha! But I’ve come around and appreciate the crunch and earthiness on simple green salads – so here’s another way to use them- a slaw! Thanks again.
To answer Ariel’s question, how about roasting the corn under the broiler in the oven? I roast my peppers that way and have used both gas and electric ovens.
I rarely comment here, although I read (and love) every post. I had to say how unbelievably coincidental it is that I have radishes, zucchini, corn, and feta in my fridge – all with no plan – and a lunch tomorrow that I couldn’t quite figure out what to make for! Thanks so much, Smitten Kitchen!
Things may have changed, but when I lived in Mexico city about 17 years ago, the corn that they sold on the street was a very different variety than the sweet corn we eat here. It was much harder and starchier. So, to me, you’re variety seems like a big improvement!
LOVE this!!! We eat lots of things in tortillas in my family! My favorite are the breakfast tacos, but my mom has fond memories of hotdogs in tortillas when she was younger :]
That is the cleanest stove I’ve ever seen! My roommate would propose to you if she saw that. When we moved into our apartment we spent an hour scrubbing the stove but it still has charred bits on it. How do you do it?? It’s beauuuutiful!
The stove! — Whenever I show a photo of my stovetop, people seem to mistake me for a neat and tidy person. I am not. I leave piles of chaos in my cooking wake, I don’t clean as I go and I’ve been known to have a pea roll off the counter, not see it immediately beneath me and say, “Eh, I’ll find it late…” [SQUISH] and then rationalize that now that I know where it is, I’ll just try not to step there again. The only way the kitchen gets clean is if a) someone else takes pity on it first or b) I need to start a new recipe. I have to start with a clean kitchen or I can’t get my head together. If whatever green/non-toxic/not tested on baby seals cleaner you’re using doesn’t get you white stovetop clean, I recommend the tiniest droplet of Soft Scrub with Bleach on a wet sponge. It will get your entire stovetop as clean as the day you brought it home and you will look like a much tidier person than you might actually be.
I’m pretty sure my mother is falling off her chair at the thought that I gave anyone cleaning advice! (She cleans as she goes. Weirdo.)
David — Dickson’s is the best! We’ll say hi next time.
Andrew — How I wish to be where you are! Tomorrow it will be 100 degrees (38 Celsius) in the city, damper than a sauna and stinkier than a trash strike. And I will have my oven on.
Darien — I swear by this one. It’s cheap and all most people ever need in the kitchen. Just don’t lose any blades. It costs almost as much to replace them as it does to buy a new one. This is why I’m on my second one now.
I just had an amazing roasted corn dish at Joe’s Stone Crab on vacation last weekend that was pretty similar. Roasted corn sauteed in butter and sprinkled with cilantro, salt & pepper. The waitress said it was their #1 dish. Now I’m thinking it would go well in a tortilla.
Esquites is one the few street foods you can buy in pretty much any Mexican neighborhood in Chicago…..here mayo and Cotija is standard….many just take the whole ear, roll it in all the stuff an serve it on the cob……I’ll have to try this…
Friend of mine sent me the link to your blog. Beautiful photos! Glad you’re enjoying the corn! I still make that dish for myself and my family, now that Cabrito is sadly gone. Im sure we’ll be doing some take on that at Dicksons Farmstand Meats, where I am now running the kitchen. Stick your head in and say hi! -D
yay! i’ve been looking for different variations on vegetarian dishes lately and this is definitely something i’m going to have to try! looks delicious!!
oh yum, a perfect mid-summer dinner for the taco-obsessed, which apparently includes an awful lot of us! Hadn’t heard of esquites before your post, but sounds like it’s the off-the-cob cousin of elote, which I love.
I’m so glad you got the taco bug, Deb! My obsession started in the spring and it is still going strong. I have to say that if you aren’t making your own corn tortillas, you should give it a whirl. They come together super fast and are sooooo much better than store bought (depending of course, on the store, but generally speaking.. ahem).
I LOVE the idea of half charred corn, and half sauteed! Can’t wait to try! So light and fresh-like something you would get off a gourmet food truck here in LA, like the Komodo truck, or the Kogi truck, which makes it riiiiiight up my alley. ;)
Yum. I make corn and zucchini enchiladas with spinach sauce that are so dang good, dear boyfriend doesn’t even realize they’re meatless.
I am so interested in trying these. The flavors sound fresh and awesome. Thanks!
oh, you make me wish it were summer.
Yum! Made these for dinner tonight — great idea and tasted good too. (And, I love the blackened corn thing, which I will use for other thing in the future.) Thanks, Smitten!
Mouth-watering . . . over vegetables.
Today it was 107 degrees and I want nothing more than a taco like this to eat. Yum! Maybe with an ice cold beer…
This looks delicious! Anything that can be made into a taco is wonderful! And nothing beats summer corn!!
We just call this elote here in South Texas (although we don’t eat it in tacos- corn in a cup!). I teach high school and we recently had a fundraiser where students groups could sell food at lunch. The elote booth was right outside my classroom… needless to say, I ate elote every day that week. Sometimes twice.
This is a brilliant idea! I can have my taco and not feel bad about all the fat and calories. Thanks!
We also call them elotes in New Mexico. I always buy them when I’m stuck at the border waiting to cross :) Yummy!!
I love your idea of charring the corn. We make something here in NM called “calabacitas” which is roasted corn, zucchini, and green chile mixed with sauteed onions and topped with lots of cheese. I often use “calabacitas” as a taco filling and it is delicious.
FYI-Trader Joe’s sells Fire Roasted Corn in the frozen food section. I’ve used it many times in chili, guacamole, salad, even as a hot side. I think it may be a good short-cut for this recipe too. Love your site!
P.S. Made the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for a friend’s birthday last month. The restaurant staff and other diners thought it was store bought. Even shared with the kids at the next table! Sinfully rich and delicious.
So, there is an alternative to placing the corn directly on the burner. You can place corn on the cobb in a skillet with some oil, place on moderate heat, put lid on and it’ll work its magic. Don’t lift the lid unless it is absolutely necessary. Shake the pan to turn the corn. This creates the same charred flavor (a little more smoky too) with a little less fear involved.
I tend to be a taco purist but I’m trying to have an open mind here.
fuck me! those look so good. i’m mexican and there is nothing like the corn cups you talk about. i’ve never known what they’re called though hahah. i remember helping my aunt out during the summer and this guy would come by with an ice cream cart but instead of ice cream, he had all the things to make the esquite. SO FREAKING GOOD!!! it’s even better on the cob though. I like to boil it, then smear it with mayo, salsa huichol, lemon, and parmesan. i’m gonna cry, i want some NOW!
The Zucchini Radish Slaw looks just great as a summer side / salad dish without the tacos. Yummmy!
These look delicious! A definite must try! My favorite step has got to be “remove toddlers from kitchen”!
Your photos look amazing (once again)! I have the same relationsship with quesadillas, anything goes and it always tastes amazing.
i don’t like to cook, so i rarely read blogs about food but your photos, recipes and words won me over ~ i love having a fridge full of farmers mkt veggies and want to find more recipes to enjoy, i’m having fun learning from you ~ your blog is beautiful.
btw – i found my way here via elk
I am not at all familiar with Mexican food. I don’t think any Greeks are actually.
But since this Greek loves experimenting with cuisines from various countries, I think I’ll start with your tacos. That first photo of them is seriously tempting. I don’t know how authentic they’lll be without that cotija cheese but I’ll give them a try!
zucchini radish slaw is genius! Never though to roast the corn on the burner, duh! Thanks for sharing.
The slaw looks so fresh and light. Perfect for summer! Can’t wait to give it a try!
looks amazing and the photos are so full of colour. I love your photography style, the dark colour of your backdrop brings the colour of the vegetables and cookware to life so brilliantly. I haven’t got my 2 little girls into eating tacos yet, but I think I should start trying as these look so delicious. Peanut and jelly tacos sound good too = we make peanut butter and jelly oatcakes which the girls love as a good healthy snack.
Couldn’t believe this when I read it. I thought I was the only one who was using zucchini in tacos. Tortillas are so versatile and they provide a gluten free casing for just about anything. I have even made a sauce out of Greek yogurt and a pre-made salsa fresca to top off my veggie tacos. It’s fantastic. Roasted or caramelized onions and peppers are also favorite additions. Great post!
This is SOOOO going to be dinner tonight! I even ran this through my food journal. Two tacos are only 216 calories! 9 g fat, Carbohydrates 28g, Protein 6.1g,
Fiber 4.3g, high on vitamin C and Omega 6! And best of all… YUM!
I have been bitten by the taco bug lately too. They are so perfect for dinner–simple, delicious, helps use up summery produce, can cook outside on the grill (and not heat up the kitchen), and a favorite with kids. That’s why they’ve become favorites around here!
I discovered that zucchini sauteed with onion, garlic, chile powder, epazote, and cumin really makes a pretty decent filling for quesadillas. We eat it a lot during the zucchini season. Which has not come yet for me. Nor has the corn. This made me impatient with my corn. Hurry up, corn!
Deb, you are a wonderfully terrible influence. I just sent my girlfriend a link to this post via IM, with the comment, “this is our new go-to summer recipe. Not this recipe, exactly, but this idea of grabbing whatever gorgeous summer food is on hand, piling it into a tortilla, and calling it a taco. YUM. Also, we really need to book a trip to Mexico.”
Since we’re each working or taking classes three nights a week for the next month, you’ve just saved our summer dinners. Thanks!
Perhaps you could use a splatter screen when charring the corn?
Oh, my goodness. Now all I want out of life is tacos! I’ve never been a big fan of sandwiches (I know, I’m weird) so tacos were always my favorite handheld lunch alternative. Love this filling!
Lady — Me neither! I think it’s a proportion thing.
Susan — Tips in Comment #93, where I also own up to what a kitchen slob I actually am!
I’ve been lusting after the photos when i saw them on flickr the other day. I cannot wait to make these! Living in Chicago, I was quite proud of myself that I knew immediately that the photo of cheese was cotija.
And yet again, you have solved my dinner issue in the blink of an email delivered to my inbox. It’s shameful how many SK tabs I have open in my browser right now because I have big plans for the recipes (linguine with pea pesto, eggplant salad toasts, several desserts including the best birthday cake and chocolate sour cream frosting which I made for my now 5 year-old’s last birthday in March and am making for my about-to-be one year old’s birthday this weekend…need I go on?). I suspect even my Mexican food snob SoCal husband will not find anything to pick on here, and we’re all obsessed with corn. Plus I think I can actually bear to make this in today’s heat, a major bonus. Thank you!
Oo! My first comment! Because I, too, have been on a massive taco kick – my new home in Cornwall is sadly lacking in the good Mexican food department – and because I’ve found out that the moo-shu pancake recipe on epicurious, if made with regular rather than sesame oil, makes pretty fantastic homemade tortillas. (Which I thought was an insane thing to do the first time, and have now made a dozen times in the last couple months) So good, my meatatarian husband has joyfully eaten lentil tacos from them.
I discovered your blog on January 1st of this year, and have been happily lurking ever since, terribly smitten with your writing, food, and baby. Thank you!
I’ve always heard the Mexican street-style corn in a cup dish called “elote en vaso” and just the straight roasted corn (with cotija or Parmesan, mayo, S&P, and chile powder or hot sauce) called elote. It’s pretty common fair food in my area of Southern California. One trick I learned when recreating this dish at home a few months ago is a time saver from Trader Joes: frozen fire roasted corn kernels. Definitely pricier than a regular bag of frozen corn (about $2.50 for a bag, IIRC), but it really does have that authentic, earthy taste, and it’s a real time saver for a weeknight dinner.
I might also recommend heating the tortillas directly on the gas burning. It gives that smokey char taste to them which is a lovely compliment to the charred corn on the inside.
this recipe looks delicious, can’t wait to try it!
on a side note, I noticed your comment about green/baby-friendly stove cleaners Deb, and thought I’d mention that I often clean my stove top with just baking soda and vinegar. It works great, is safe, and not to mention, pretty cheap! :)
This has nothing to do with the recipe…but how do you keep your burners so CLEAN? I clean the stove regularly, but there are some spills I just can’t get off hte porcelain tops…any tips??
Don’t know what I did wrong, but the zucchini – radish slaw didn’t work for me. But filled tacos with grilled corn and mashed black beans and ricotta salata to great good effect.
I love the corn tacos! I got a kick reading the ingredients! I have an epazote plant that my mom gave me recently because I love to cook my black beans with epazote. The epazote gives the black beans an extra little something and they are so yummy! I have some epazote, that I dried – – would you like me to send you some? Of course, if you are ever in the area (CA) maybe you can pick an epazote plant of your own! Rosalia
Great looking tacos! I love the corn roasting method!
Read this today, ran to the store for ingredients, made ’em for dinner.
My husband and I could not stop RAVING!!! I broiled the corn (gas grill was out of gas) and added a can of black beans as you suggested.
I am going to make these for a family lunch on Sunday. Everyone is EXCITED.
We are all “foodies” and I can’t wait to show off my newest recipes!
Thanks for the tortilla recommendation, Deb. Now, I’ll just have to see if they ship to the Great White North I call home . . .
#115—2 tacos!! :-) That was my original goal…but they were just so darn good.
THANKS SK for a fab recipe that I’ll be repeating soon!
Waiting for my sweetheart to get home so we can eat these. I forgot to get cotija, but I had some cooked bacon that really goosed up the flavor of the corn. Also added a touch of agave syrup to amp up the sweetness of the slightly-tired ears of corn.
Delicious. Thanks for reminding us that good food can be so easy.
Also, I’ll second the homemade tortilla thoughts! We prefer masa harina, but we can make ’em from all-purpose flour, too: flour, a little baking soda, salt, a little oil, and water. We haven’t bought tortillas in a long time!
These look delicious! I actually made corn tacos earlier this week and hadn’t seen your post yet. I’m eating vegan (and was starving) so I too turned to tacos. With all the corn in the markets I figured it was a good fit and loaded it up with some peppers and caramelized onions too (never thought of caramelized onions and lime together but a Mexican friend served it to me once and it is great). BTW when I was in the store purchasing for my tacos I picked up corn nuts, never had them before and my god they are good while you’re “cooking” the tacos!
So funny, I’m reading through the comments and I too use that tortilla brand! They are the best. I was going to comment but couldn’t remember the name.
Great idea! I’ve come up with some of my best recipes when I’ve been short on ingredients. You’re a genius! Love caramelized onion and lots of veggies. Using a 100% corn tortilla would make this meal entirely gluten-free!
It’s always handy to find another use for zucchini when you think that you just can’t eat another one! This looks great.
enjoy summer while it lasts Deb. im at the point where all soup, stews, casserolesare etc starting to taste the same, right now winters only saving grace is it means a bottle of red wine is a NECCESSARY ingredient in the kitchen.
oh these sound so delicious! Little scared of cooking corn right on the burner, but why not?
When I was in California earlier this spring, I had some sort of taco every single day. I love tacos! Beautiful pics!
I’m in Texas, so you’re cooking up our national dish right there, although the radishes are a new spin. I wish we could get some that were peppery enough for my tastes down here.
Made this today and absolutely loved it!!
looks good, however, I am wondering why you have a political ad for a senate campaign for Wisconsin? I really enjoy your site and was surprised to find a political ad for the WI race since you live in New York (?) Maybe you have an ad service that places ads based on visitors’ location? Regardless, I was somewhat frustrated to see a pol. ad as I come to your site to read your wonderful commentary about your cooking/baking- I try to avoid all of the political craziness online since we are lambasted through TV/radio/mailings/phone calls here in Wisconsin.
I hope you are able to stay cool during the heat wave- we had it here last week and it was brutal.
jen — It’s a Google Ad that probably slipped through and I’ll have it removed. I have constantly complained about this to Google — that my site is signed up for food and home ads only — but they still slip in from time to time. I can assure you, I want nothing political on this site.
That’s like me and quesadillas this week. I’ve been eating plain quesadillas, mushroom quesadillas, and today I randomly wanted corn quesadillas, but it’s probably because I saw this recipe!
I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have made a few cake recipes from here. Every single one of them turned out great. I just wanted to say thanks for such delicious recipes!
These tacos beg for a hot summer night and a margarita!! They look awesome and I can easily make it vegan! Thanks!
Esquites is actually the best thing i’ve ever eaten. Not even kidding.
If you’re into the charred-corn-over-the-burner method, try doing the corn tortillas the same way. Place a single tortilla directly on the burner over a medium-low heat for 45 seconds, and then flip it with tongs and do the same on the other side. This is my go-to method for corn tortillas, and I love that it blisters but doesn’t use any extra oil.
Please buy a bag of masa harina and make homemade corn tortillas for this/any corn tortilla dish. It is one of the most gratifying and delicious transitions I have made in my kitchen!
Go, girl, go!
I’m with Andrew, esquites is the best thing I have ever eaten. I was traveling to a conference and to kill time I stopped at a flea/livestock market along a rural Georgia highway in the very early morning. Some young latinas were selling “corn in cup” from a small trailer. When I inquired what this mysterious dish was, they simply said, “it’s your breakfast.” It was my breakfast. And it was heaven.
Made these last night (charring the corn in cast-iron skillet works great and is fun). My carnivorous husband declared this a “peak meal.” It was, indeed, deliciously fresh and filling. No cojita or like substitute; I skipped the cheese and he used TJ’s smoked cheese blend – a delicious staple in our house. Molly’s Quick Black Beans were a perfect side. We’re having the leftovers for breakfast!
They look absolutely gorgeous, I have never tried Taco’s before (and I’m ashamed to admit it) but they are definitely on my to-attempt list!
These are beautiful and very inviting! Thanks for sharing this!
Made these for lunch today on a sunny (rare!) san francisco day – Fresh, Flavorful, and Fabulous! Added black beans to the corn mixture and carrots to the slaw. The cojita cheese (or similar dry salty cheese) is important because it enhances the sweetness of the corn. I also found uncooked pre-rolled tortillas in my grocery store that take 60 sec in a pan and are DELICIOUS. Thanks Deb for the generosity and humility with which you have created and maintain this site. (PS. this is my first blog post ever!)
Thanks for the inspiration! The combination of not cooking due to the extreme heat + abundant shares from the CSA have made my refrigerator look like a garden gone amok. After reading this post, I made the 1st of what will probably be many veggie-combo tacos. Delicious, easy and so satisfying. Thanks.
Made this Friday and loved it so much, made it again for a quick after church lunch for us and adult kids/spouses. I made everything yesterday and just had to reheat the corn portion today. I doubled the recipe so there would leftovers for the “kids” to take home. Everyone LOVED LOVED LOVED the tacos!
Served the tacos with fresh sliced watermelon. Awesome summer lunch/dinner.
I look forward to each recipe and your incredible sense of witty humor!!!
YUM! And so healthy :) love the charred corn!
This was super delicious, a great summer taco. I added black beans because I can’t NOT add black beans when it’s a viable option.
exactly what I want to be eating right now. it’s not even expensive either!!
What a perfect combination, wrapped up in a petite, hand-sized vessel for eating! And that’s too funny that you brought up PB&J tacos… because I totally do that. I have an obsession with slapping corn tortillas directly onto the flame on my stove (so they get soft and crisp and slightly charred at the same time), schmearing some peanut butter on it with a little plop of jam. SO GOOD, especially when the PB melts a little. Oh my. So delicious :)
So glad you posted a taco recipe. When I read an old post of yours about hating tacos because the shell cracks and everything spills, I wanted to tell you the amazing trick I learned. Line your shell with a big soft lettuce leaf which holds it all together despite the shell cracking. The post was so old I knew you’d never check it for comments again. It saves your shirtfront every time.
This looks so good and I’m all about the veg stuff during this heat, but Deb, do you have any advice (maybe someone has asked this already?) on charring corn a-top an ELECTRIC stove with its coils?
Will it work the same on a piece of foil on top of the coil? It looks so good… such a combo!
I had a couple of girlfriends over last Friday night and we made these tacos together for dinner. It’s a fun recipe to make with friends because there is plenty of prepwork and everyone can be doing something. With a margarita in hand, it’s even better. We also added black beans and rice because for me, a meal without protein is a snack. I mixed up some guacamole and we had that, sour cream, and chopped tomatoes on top. Oh, and we had homemade corn tortillas, which I believe Deb has written about somewhere on her blog. If not, she should, because they are easy and well worth the little bit of extra time. The recipe gets 6 thumbs up from us.
Oh, and Marti, maybe try roasting the corn in a 450 degree oven, or under the broiler, turning frequently?
Of course, maybe a broiler defeats the purpose in this heat. Sorry for multiple posts.
These tacos look so delicious, Deb. If Jacob gives them two thumbs up they must be good! :-)
This looks amazing! It reminds me of my favorite taco recipe from epicurious, which I make more often than I would like to admit with Trader Joe’s cuban beans and sliced avocado. It is SO good. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Crispy-Black-Bean-Tacos-with-Feta-and-Cabbage-Slaw-351271
My friends and I brought a huge amount of tortillas on a 9-day canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness. In the final days when we were running out of good/not rotting food, we ate peanut butter and jam tortillas and we loved them. Once we got back home however, we tried it again and it was kind of gross, hahaha.
Can’t believe that you used to not be a taco person! How is that even possible?!
Oh my goodness, this made my mouth absolutely water. The charred tacos are definitely going on my list for a dinner this week.
This sounds awesome. I have a CSA this year and am having a glut of zucchini and corn (and radishes), so this sounds heavenly and quick enough to make on a weeknight without keeping myself over the stove for hours.
Another thing to do with my zucchini from the garden. Yum! :)
oh, my, that looks good!
I really love the color of this meal. The avocado adds so much and has to be pretty tasty as well. I normally wouldn’t think to add any cheese to this, but after seeing the finished taco, I couldn’t resist!
Ohhh my goodness. I made this for dinner tonight and they were so delicious. So many great flavors. Thank you for the recipe, it was a big hit!
I´m mexican born and raised, and something of a mexican food purist and snob, I´m usually grossed out by some american takes on mexican food, but as I read this I thought “I think I actually wanna try that”. Surely I wont think of it as actual esquites but it does sound good.
And traditionally, they are not cooked in butter but in lard. I prefer them when they`re not charred, but kind of grilled in a flat, gritty surface….and you had the right idea with the cheese, esquites really do need the saltiest, cheapest and hopefully more plastic-y cheese you can find. As far as this dish goes, the cheaper the ingredients, the better the result.
Fantastic, fantastic! Love that you charred the corn over the stove. But, also, really love how you’ve unlocked me a bit from my idea that a taco has to have some variety of protein in it (or something else meaty in it, like a mushroom taco I had the other day). I’m a vegetarian, so that holds me back from eating tacos a lot of the time. Love the idea of making them with a few simple veggies. It’s the little things..
I’m not gonna lie. I am naturally suspicious of northerners’ tacos. BUT I trust you, and so I made these tonight for dinner, and I came pretty close to crying happy foodie tears. DANG, THESE ARE GOOD. Just FYI: I linked back to this recipe with gratitude!
We made these tacos tonight – awesome! We grilled the corn, actually, and used feta, but they were delish! Yum!
Thanks, Deb! My husband and I enjoyed these tonight. Brilliant!
This cutting board was made for you!! I was just browsing and then there it was: the perfect thing for DEB!
just an FYI – the bobby flay green onion slaw that i got from you tastes OH-MAZING in a corn tortilla. uhm yeah….warmed in butter, naturally.
i love mexicain food these look amazing i dont think mine would end up looking that good.
These look delicious.
I love the step “Remove toddlers from the kitchen.” :-)
Oh wow. Those look so delicious. I am american born with a somewhat distant Mexican heritage and although I grew up eating very few traditional Mexican dishes, I have a deep an abiding love for them. I could eat any type of tacos any day and be perfectly happy! I live in Chicago and luckily there are little carts that sell this snack on the street. We lovingly call them “corn cups” and they are delicious, although I am looking forward to the addition of the salty cheese in place of the mayo.
So…I love tacos, but I’m responding to the “peanut butter and jelly on a taco” bit of this post, re: the concept of putting peanut butter and jelly on something unexpected. My dad was a waiter at the Cliffhouse in San Francisco when he was in college, and they served a PB&J omelette, which he now occasionally makes for us. It is DANG good. In other news, I need to try these tacos…
I thought you might be interested that your post inspired me to taco happiness. I thought corn sounded good but realized I didn’t have any… in fact, all I really had from your recipe was zucchini! But I took heart from your “taco solves everything” mantra and just threw what few veggies and taco makings I had together with a couples spices. Surprisingly good! (Except I ate mine like a burrito, because I dislike the insides spilling out all over the place, so maybe I think the burrito solves everything.) Thanks for inspiring a hungry pregnant woman. :)
Can’t wait to make this on Friday for dinner. I do have a question do the corn ears need to be pre-cooked before doing the burner method?
My belly is currently full of this AWESOME summer din. It was serendipitous that my farm share this week had plenty of corn, zucchini, and cilantro! I also had no idea what to do with the heads of red and green cabbage that came along with it, so I swapped in in for the radish. For sides, I experimented with chili sauce, sour cream, and a little goat cheese. Heaven. I want more, right now.
Thanks Deb! Another hit!
These are the most beautiful so-called tacos I have ever seen. Your photography makes the food look almost unreal. The recipe sounds utterly delicious.
You know, it hadn’t really occurred to me that tacos aren’t regular dinner fare in most households. Or that people don’t use tortillas as multipurpose bread things. But I live closer to the border and there’s one thing my poor white-bread state can do well: Mexican Food. There’s ALWAYS a bag of tortillas in my fridge. I grew up eating melted cheese rolled in a tortilla or, better yet, butter and cinnamon-sugar on a hot tortilla as my after school snacks. I even remember eating tuna salad on a tortilla as a kid (eww, right?). My hubby made a “sandwich” yesterday comprised of tzatziki, turkey, leftover falafel and veggies on a tortilla (he said it was good, I’m not willing to verify). And, yes, I have put peanut butter and jelly (and banana) on a tortilla. It’s good. Try it. Don’t hold back, Deb!
Well hello, perfect summer meal!
Okay, so the only things in this recipe that are currently in my fridge are the tortillas. But we will be having this for dinner tonight. Grocery store here I come! Can’t wait.
So creative! My husband is always pushing for Mexican but it’s not my fave – perhaps now a compromise can be reached…
Just saw this recipe last night and went right over to the new Fairway on 86th (have you been? It’s gorgeous, but let’s face it, I’m a West Sider and 74th will always be home, though even I can admit that 125th is Mecca) to get all the ingredients and make this for dinner immediately. LOVED IT and will make it again with the rest of the stuff I have tonight! I was thinking maybe I’d even try hummus in there.
I have a bunch of zucchini from my dad’s garden that I just brought home. This has definitely given me some inspiration for me to use it!! Thanks for the great recipe!
Deb you don’t have to go to Mexico for that snack there’s plenty of places in NYC that serve it, although I’ve always seen it called elotes on menus. La Esquina at Kenmare and Lafayette makes a good one, so does Pinche Taqueria which I think is on Lafayette and Houston.
I’ve never tried taco with zuccini, but I think that it’s high time. You made me by this recipe! It looks fantastic!
I have put just about everything on, over, in or to the side of a tortilla. It’s my home food—what I grew up with. I could smell the corm charring from your photo, Deb.
made these tonight – they were delicious! especially loved the charred corn. used zucchini and cucumber instead of radish, added some minced serrano pepper for a kick. will be making these again.
That is so funny, I just went out for dinner and had an appetizer of charred corn salad, plus I just blogged about a steak and corn salad!
Your pictures are wonderful, and I love the fact that you put your whole corn on top of the stove. That is genius, and I am definitely going to start doing that at home! I don’t think I’ll ever mention that technique, but if I do- I will refer to you! Keep great tips like that coming!
Tacos are soul satisfying food. It does not get any better.
It never occurred to me to roast my corn cobs over my open gas flame on the stovetop. Very cool idea.
These tacos look delicious (plus I’ll get my veggies too!). I like the idea of using the stovetop to roast the corn cobs. My mother does it all the time since the flavour you get this way is so much better.
I love a good taco night and usually gravitate towards turkey tacos. These are such a great spin and have some serious veggie-inspiration! Your photography is so artistic.
My boyfriend’s father lives in Mexico. He comes back once a year, carrying tortillas, tacos and avocados and limes. I’ll try you recipe with him :-)
To fill a taco is a sacred mission, a personal battle with the fridge. And with the time. Zucchini & charred corn, now that’s a combo I wanna have in my tacos during hot summer days. Feels like sharing this with the world (obviously, my dream is to have my own taco stand and eat in abundance for the rest of my life :)
Everything about this looks amazing. So fresh, it just screams summer! Would love a fresh lime margarita with them too :)
I know you’re busy and I totally respect that. I can’t wait for the cookbook and I know that it will be amazing, but I just wanted to tell you that I miss you. Come back soon!
Hi Erin — I miss you too! If you’re a Facebook fan of Smitten Kitchen, I just started a discussion over there of where I’ve actually been this week. In short: the kitchen mojo has not been with me!
Pam P — I have never wanted something so much in my entire life. You KNOW I keep a ruler next to the cutting board. I do!
The timing on this post couldn’t be better! I planning to make calabacita (sauteed summer squash, onion and corn with cilantro) as a sidedish for a potluck tonight. Those food-savvy ladies are going to have calabacita TACOS instead, topped with queso fresco. Thanks, Deb, for the reminder that everything can be turned into a meal with the addition of a tortilla.
Sorry Deb I’m posting something that is completely unrelated to this post.
I just got a Chow email update with a recipe for a Pandowdy.
Have you ever heard about a Pandowdy? I haven’t. I know you have a thing for baked fruit dishes with funky names so I thought I’ll forward this on to you.
They describe it a little like a cross between pie-cobbler-crumble where the fruit is on the bottom and the crust on top is broken halfway through the baking soaked a little with the baking fruit and returned to the oven to fully bake.
I sounds delicious!
God I’m craving tacos for last 2 days, this looks amazing fresh and perfect summer dish in every sense. I’m making this this week for sure. thanks for the recipe.
These were pretty darn good. Amazingly, I had everything in kitchen or garden already, and CSA pick up today included corn. Make it if only to try the radish/zucchini/lime juice relish as new topping for tacos! Zucchini goes soft with lime juice asap, but it’s a nice contrast of crunchy radish, soft zucchini and the tart lime juice and salt. So, so good. The corn filling is great, but it’s still “corn on corn” if using corn tortillas, so that’s a lot of starch and a lot of somewhat sweet filling. The corn lovers will LOVE it. I made some with out cheese and added avo (vegan version, also without butter) and some with cheese. The salty cheese definitely adds something, so vegans should try more salsa type toppings for contrast instead of avocado. Really great recipe for this time of year. Even though it hasn’t been over 70 here in many weeks.
Made it! Its awesome.
I love, love, love this! I’m always looking for vegetarian dishes that are substantial, but without beans (not a fan of beans) – And this, is just perfect! Plus, the colors are just beautiful!!
we had a radish slaw on our burgers the other night, fantastic! Spicy and crunchy!
Thank you, thank you. We made it 2x times and are heading for a third this weekend. It is corn/zucchini season in upstate NY and a bountiful season for both
Ooh, that looks so tasty :)
Made these last night and they were FREAKING DELICIOUS. OH MY GOD. I’m obsessed. OOBSESSED.
This is just a general comment, not taco specific, but have you ever thought about making a tag for recipes that don’t involve the oven? It is a must for me this time of year, and as I search through the archives looking for dinner ideas, I’d love to be able to search this way.
Like many, we are looking for creative ways to use all of the zukes fro our garden.
We are mexican fanatics…and your recipe was out of this world! So creative. Easy to make – and we couldn’t picture how the tacos were going to be filling enough…but they absolutely were. No beans necessary. ;) Thank you.
I finally made these and, man, they were awesome! Thanks for another fab recipe :)
I love how you brought together all the flavors, these sound so much better than the “traditional” taco! Thanks so much~ now… I am off to go check out those scones… oooo!
I made fish tacos for the first time a few weeks ago. Can’t wait to try your recipe!
These. were. AMAZING. We grilled the corn, I topped ’em with the slaw, some fat free feta (fucking Weight Watchers…) and cilantro. BANGARANG.
Also, if you’re looking for a healthy, store-bought corn tortilla (with a MUCH shorter, easier-to-pronounce ingredient list), you might try Food For Life’s sprouted corn tortillas. I found ’em at Whole Foods in the freezer section by the gluten-free stuff. They are (shhh) better than my local Mexican tortillería’s stuff.
Made these tonight with a few alterations. I don’t have a gas stove to char the corn, and was loathe to turn on the broiler in this heat, so I did all of the corn kernels in the pan, and just tried to have the heat high enough so that there would be a little bit of browning (it was mostly the onions that browned, but it was still extra flavor!) I added a can of drained, rinsed black beans, and to make up for the lack of char I added 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika along with the chili powder. I also substituted thinly sliced cabbage for the radishes since I had a wedge of cabbage that I needed to use up. It turned out really good, and the smoky flavor from the paprika definitely came through. Another hit, Deb!
Oh my Lord, these are amazing. I used cilantro as my herb and crumbled goat cheese instead of cotija. Served them with avocado and homemade pico de gallo. Also, I smeared a little mayo to the tortilla before I filled them. Both my husband and I agreed it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. Deb, you have never failed me.
Oh my. I must make these immediately.
I found your blog a while ago but life was busy and I couldn’t read as much as I would’ve wanted to. Now I come back and I find you’ve made a post on esquites! As a proud Mexican, I’m very happy to see you plugging them! I love that you could eat a taco any day any time. You’d fit right in with my family! And if you eve want to come down to Mexico, let me know… I’ll give you all the food tips!
Made these this weekend. Awesome! That dash of chili powder in the roasted corn really sent it over the top! Many thanks. And I reviewed it here.
Also I’d been avoiding corn tortillas – too many dried nasty ones that spill the taco guts on your lap. So I experimented and found a different fantastic brand! Thanks so much, and I’m really looking forward to your cookbook.
Made this last night. My husband was very worried…”what? no meat?” He enjoyed it nevertheless. It’s 100% outside and this was a perfect dinner.
These look and sound incredibly delicious. Such vibrant colors. If I didn’t have so many veggies in my life, my meal times would look a lot duller.
I made these last night and LOVED them. I don’t have a gas stove, so I sauteed frozen corn in a cast-iron skillet and still got a little of that blackened corn taste (just a little). I also made homemade tortillas to go with them, YUM! I thought the flavors were fantastic. My husband said “What, no meat?” in a very sad voice too. But everyone was full when dinner was done so it wasn’t the end of the world.
Yes, but have you had the spaghetti tacos in your taco kick?
Such a refreshing version of the taco!
We made these, and I can’t stop thinking about the slaw topping. I was skeptical, but it was the BEST shot of texture and flavor. We coat our tortillas with refried beans before loading them up, totally cuts down on soggy, tearing tortillas.
Holy shit, these are good. I made them last night and they are hands down the best taco I’ve ever had. I added julienne carrots to the slaw for more crunch, and used feta. Wow. Can’t stop thinking about them. Thank you for a great recipe!
wow that looks fantastic but i don’t think i could do the whole roasting corn over my stoveburner…for me, it would only end in tears
I made these the other day, although I used carrots instead of radish as I didn’t have any at home. I also made mine with flour tortillas, as I prefer them over corn. I only had one corn on the cob so me and my bf could have one each, I ate mine in about two seconds and were drooling when he ate his, so delicious I will for sure soon make them again! I also linked to this post from my blog, I read all your faq’s, but I hope I didn’t do anything wrong! Many thanks for lovely blog, beautiful pics and delicious food!
These were terrific. Thank you so much for posting them.
I did a grill-centric version. I charred all of the corn on the grill, and just sauteed the onions, garlic and spices, then mixed everything together. Super tasty.
Loved these tacos! So delicious and summer-appropriate! Love following your blog. Thanks!!
We adapted this tonight around what we had on hand (spoiler alert: lots and lots of CSA corn) and it was so freaking delicious. This is why we’re buying your cookbook as soon as it comes out; I feel like we’ve gotten so much out of your website we ought to buy the book just as basic courtesy. ;)
It’s amazing–two ingredients I dislike (radishes and raw zucchini) and one that I am sort of neutral on (sweet corn) have equaled the yummiest meal I’ve made all summer!!
OMG. So good I am having to restrain from eating my boyfriends portion before he comes home.
Looks so delicious! I can’t wait to try this recipe!
Wow. I had all of the ingredients except for the cheese and this was the perfect use for them. The corn filling will probably be making its way into many things for the next month or so while it’s at peak season.
So let’s say I couldn’t find either of those cheeses you recommended at Jewel. In a hurry, I bought some of the pre-shredded “Taco Blend,” and after I got home I realized that goat cheese probably would have been closer to the intended flavor. Am I correct? They also had “farmer’s cheese” which I’ve never used, and I wondered about that… I’ll be making these tonight and I’m sure they’ll be delicious no matter what (corn, zucchini, salsa, avocado–I’m there), but just curious for next time.
And thank you so much for a recipe that uses fresh corn on the cob and is appropriate for us apartment-dwellers that are without backyard or grill!
I just made these and they are delicious! Thank you so much. One question though – were the onions supposed to caramelize? Mine did, though perhaps because I was trying to slow the cooking while waiting for the corn to char/cool. Thanks again – I’m going back now for thirds :)
This recipe is a winner! I don’t particularly care for radish, but I’m so glad I made the recipe as-is because the flavors balanced so nicely. I think a dash of salt helped brighten the slaw, and a dollop of sour cream on top brought everything together. It was so quick, too; and with my own little one running around these days I’ve come to value expediency!
note to self: do not read your yummy blog when hungry. will want to make everything.
I have been reading your blog for a little over a year, and have even been brave enough to try a few of these recipes. I just HAD to write and tell you this is FABULOUS. I almost found it easier than “traditional” tacos and it’s even a little more fun, what with the corn juice hazard. Thanks for all you do, and keep those awesome recipes coming! (When I’m looking to try something new, you are my FIRST go-to.)
Made this last night and it was, no surprise (butter + corn!), delicious.
My husband stopped at one, not realizing I’d eaten while he was fiddling in the garage, and was so relieved he didn’t have to save any of the rest with me.
Due to a bandaged finger, I’m typing one handed and giggling over the instructions to julienne radishes on a mandoline. Have you one with a shute or a magical finger guard? I can’t tell from the photo.
Also, I know it’s important to remove toddlers from the room while charring the corn but I believe watching that step would be a great way to encourage older children to eat their vegetables (not that they really need it with this dish). My grown child/husband found it fascinating.
Oops. Found your your mandoline link in a prior post. Not that all different than mine–more dangerous looking, if anything!. Perhaps what I need is a safety glove.
I got the best compliment from my classically trained chef of a husband tonight on these tacos: ‘you could sell these’. Awesomely yummy!
Discovered tonight that the tiniest bit of leftover charred corn + leftover pico de gallo + bit of leftover beans + those last two radishes + a chipotle spiked buttermilk dressing + a couple slices avocado, all on whatever greens I had around = the most amazing pretend Mexican salad. I had to postpone tomorrow’s chicken and dumplings dinner for tomorrow.
Let no buttery charred corn go to waste; my new motto.
Made these last night as a last gasp of summer corn. Really loved them, and looking forward to leftovers when I get home.
One tip: Remove the husks and silk, but leave the stalk on the corn if you can. It forms a nice handle to make charring the corn really easy.
Even though zucchini is gone, I”m going to make this tonight to use the radishes I got in my farm share last week… no idea what else to do with them!
And I think a little tilapia will be delish in these tacos too!
Made this for lunch and it was delicious!! I think I could’ve let the onions get a little caramelized but, you’re right, it was very filling which surprised me.
made this tonight for the bf (who is my resident vegetarian) and we were both completely impressed (we live in So California and Mexican food is plentiful here and we eat it at least twice per week). So to find something tasty, veggie, slightly spicy and amazingly delicious and filling like this was a complete SCORE!!!!!!! We loved it and this will not only be going into my rotation but I also want to have a veggie taco party and invite all my hard core meat taco friends over for a new experience! thank you and I completely encourage everyone to try this recipe; you won’t regret it!
Ok this recipe is ridiculous! My wife told me she was making this for dinner, and I thought, ugh, slaw on a meatless taco? Wow were we both floored when we ate them, so good she made them again less than a week later.
Hi, Deb.. I’m sorry if you already specified and I missed it, but how many servings would you estimate you can get from a single batch of this recipe as written? It sounds delicious and I’d love to make it for us. Thank you!
This recipe is incredible. WOW! My husband and I loved it.
We made this tonight. My Indian parents who have never tasted Mexican food and my picky husband loved it. Can I tell you how much I love your web site? My mom was surprised I could just pick a recipe off your blog and make it :) I lost my cooking halo to the truth!
Made these the other night, my husband was skeptical of the slaw but was quickly converted! He has made several positive comments while eating the left overs! Thanks so much for the great recipe! Next time I hope to be able to char the corn!
Finally got around to making these, they are SO GOOD and will be in our dinner rotation going forward for sure. Thanks for all the tasty recipes!
I am making these tonight and I can’t wait! Going to bulk them up a bit by turning them into fish tacos with charred corn and zucchini slaw. I plan to pan fry up some fresh Kingklip (best local white fish) with a bit of cayenne/paprika/S&P. I’ll report back if it is a success.
It was a success :)
When the first corn of the season makes it’s appearance, I always think of this recipe first! It’s been part of my corn repetoire since you first posted~Tomato Corn Pie is a close second. I love corn. I love your blog. I love your book. Thanks for being such an inspiration.
We are big fans of these tasty tacos in our house. We’ve made them at home so many times it’s not funny, and also on a couple of camping trips. I was just adding a few ingredients to my shopping list and thought I’d pop over and tell you thank you for a great recipe that is one of our most favorite meals!
Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! Wonderful recipe. I am a huge fan of esquites so this recipe immediately caught my eye. Trying it soon! x
Thanks for the zucchini and radish slaw idea – I was looking for a healthy and different way to introduce a group of middle school students to zucchini and radish in my summer school program (I’m teaching them about healthy food choices and recipes that they can make relatively straight from their family’s garden). I figure they love limes and citrus – this may just be the ticket!! Fingers crossed they’ll appreciate it!
Oh, goodness! I stumbled upon this recipe just the other day and couldn’t wait to try them. It was a couples project with my husband charring the corn over the gas burner (it must be a ‘harkening-back to the cave days’, guy-thing) while I happily mandolined and matchsticked. Flavor’s were amazing and the colors were tremendous. The radish slaw was superb. The only change we made was the addition of a hatch chile I’d seen at the farmer’s market the other day. My lips are stinging – but it’s a good thing. Thanks for the wonderful ideas with which you always inspire me!
Wow, these tacos were so amazing! I couldn’t believe how filling they were! I hurt myself using a mandolin for my first time, but these tacos were worth it :)
Debbie! I’m in Maine making this with my friend Krysten. Since when is a mandolin anything other than an instrument? I suck at julienne-ing. Failed. And we have a baby in the kitchen. Wish you were here. Really. Everything would be going much faster. XOXO – Alison
I made these last night, and they were incredible! My husband freaked out. I added just a couple, small things… I added some cayenne and about 2 tsp. of mayo to the cooked corn/onion mixture to make it more elote style. I added cilantro to the slaw instead of putting it on top, and added some sliced avocados on top. This recipe is a keeper.
I have been eying this recipe for awhile and made it tonight. It was awesome! Charring the corn on the stove was so much fun, but noisy. BTW, just heat your tortillas on the stove too, I do that all the time. My 19 year old “baby” is a zucchini hater, but actually tried the slaw and said it wasn’t terrible. It is a start.
Is there a way to find other “grilling on stovetop” recipes on your site? I’m in the same situation as you; tiny NYC apt. kitchen, no outdoor space. Thanks!
Babs — Good idea. I’ll see if I can find others and create an “indoor grilling” tag. Funny enough, we’ve since moved to an apartment with outdoor space but it’s completely illegal for us to have a grill (they need to be 10′ from a building or structure and our deck is 7′ wide and centrally enough located that it would be hard to hide) and we haven’t worked up the courage to be lawbreakers yet.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve probably prepared this dish 15 times. I am now also preparing my own corn tortillas. This is a huge hit with the family, and thanks so much.
I made this tonight after seeing it in your special corn themed newsletter, and uh, WOW. Light, sweet, tasty, and perfect for this terrible summer day! Also extremely easy, which is also helpful in this kind of exhausting heat. I did add black beans to the slaw (canned, bc of laziness) and used the ricotta salata cheese replacement (still fantastic).
Adding it to the summer rotation!
Nice – looks great!!
I did an odd twist on tacos not too different from this on Monday night. I had a bunch of sweet corn, a pork roast, and a bunch of ingredients I needed to use up from making tabouli over the weekend.
I charred the corn under the broiler (electric stove top) and then mixed the kernels with with chopped mint/parsley, chopped cucumber, feta, and a lime vinaigrette (no lemon on hand).
The roast was made into pulled pork and I seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, and more lime.
Pulled pork base covered with a charred corn “salsa” and a bit more feta (and diced tomato for me) served on a flour tortilla.
Weird, but in a good way ;)
So many of Deb’s recipies are great! Unfortunately, this is not one of them. The dominate flavor was the radish, which was rather bitter. Not a repeater.
3rd way to heat corn tortillas: place on a hot (cast iron) skillet. No need for the oil. The tortilla will soften, then flip. How I learned in Southern California, eons ago.
The corn mixture was tasty, but it destroyed my stove top. 30 minutes later I’m still trying to get it clean. When you toast the corn, it’s not toddlers you need to worry about because the corn that’s being toasted is facing down. It does pop, but the spritz from that popping goes directly down onto the cook top, and it burns right onto it. I’ll skip this one until summer when I’m grilling corn anyway, and can save some leftovers for this recipe.
Okay, AMAZING. My husband and I absolutely loved these. Feta cheese was yummy. We added a homemade tomatillo sauce! Yum!