Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn and (Cashew) Cream: Rich and Velvety Comfort Food

To be honest I wasn't expecting all that much from this recipe. I really cooked it for two reasons. The first was that I have been having fun "playing" with cashew cream (that wonderful alternative that makes eating mostly dairy-free almost easy) and wanted to try it in this dish. The second reason is after deciding I might as well just have the last book in my Rick Bayless collection, I bought Authentic Mexican and have cooked from it exactly zero times since we started cooking with Bayless at I Heart Cooking Clubs. The book intimidates me. It's not that I think I can't handle the recipes--it's the time factor. The recipes seem way more involved than the quick and easy ones in Bayless' Mexican Everyday and life right now makes involved cooking just about the last thing I feel like doing. 

When I found the recipe for Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn and Cream (Calabacitas con Crema), it seemed simple enough and I figured I could use the half hour of "sweating" the zucchini to chop up everything else and puree the cashew cream from the nuts soaked the night before. With the thick (more like sour cream) cashew cream that I used, this dish was rich, velvety, satisfying and much better than the "pretty good" that I expected--it was actually very good. I served it over brown rice as a main dish and I don't think anyone would be able to tell it was vegan, dairy-free and of course much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. My changes are in red below.

Rick says, "This recipe comes from the cafeteria that we lived above in Mexico City, where it was served as a main dish--without any meat whatsoever. In addition to featuring it as a light main course with tortillas and a salad, I use it as a side dish...

Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn, and (Cashew) Cream
Adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
(Yields about 2 cups, 4 servings)

1 pound (4 small) zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 scant teaspoon salt, plus a little more to season the sauce, if necessary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance Spread) 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
kernels cut from 1 large ear fresh sweet corn (about 1 cup) or 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted (I used about 2 cups fresh local corn) 1 fresh chile poblano, roasted and peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup thick cream or whipping cream (I used cashew cream--see recipe link above)

"Sweating" the zucchini: In a colander, toss the zucchini with salt; let stand over a plate or in the sink for 1/2 hour. Rinse the zucchini, then dry on paper towels.

Cooking the vegetables: Heat the butter and oil over medium-high in a skillet large enough to hold the zucchini in a single layer. When quite hot, add the zucchini and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is browned and just tender. Remove the zucchini, draining as much butter and oil as possible back into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the corn kernels, chile and onion. Stir regularly until the onion is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Finishing the dish: A few minutes before serving, stir in the creamy and the zucchini and simmer for a few minutes, until the cream is reduced to a thick glaze. Add a little salt, if necessary, scoop into a warm dish and serve. 

Notes/Results: This is a wonderful summer dish when made with fresh local corn and zucchini and a rich but not heavy sauce. The roasted poblano adds a very subtle warmth (I roast mine on my gas burner to make it fast and easy and so as to not need to heat up the oven), and I finished the sauce off with a little smoked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I made a fairly thick cashew cream which didn't really cook down into a glaze like the recipe suggested but I think that actually enhanced the dish--as did the extra corn. It worked well with the brown rice, but was equally delicious scooped up in tortillas. I will make this again--maybe tossing some spinach in the next time for extra nutrition.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and you can check out what the other participants made this week by going to the post and following the links.


  1. Joanne @ eats well with othersAugust 23, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    I can't seem to deal with involved dishes lately with, especially if I'm not absolutely sure they're going to be worth it. Glad to know that this definitely is!!!

  2. This looks incredible! Creamy, delicious and perfect over rice. I feel the same way you do. I can't handle involved dishes right now. I don't even want to read about them or look at them. I just want quick and easy;-)

  3. I enjoy calabacitas in the summer with fresh zucchini and corn. Have never had a creamy version and will definitely be trying it this way. I like that you used rice as a base and made a main dish.

  4. I have never had zucchini cooked with corns before, and this sounds good! Having it with rice is a wonderful idea, a meal in itself!

  5. Glennis-Can't Believe We AteAugust 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Oh, I think I know what the side dish is for supper tomorrow!! I was at the Farmers' Market this morning and came home with gorgeous corn and poblanos!! I already know that Sunday brunch is chile rellenos, so it's as good a time as any to roast and peel poblanos!! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Yum, great use for zucchini - and I do love that poblano flavour.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)