Meatless Monday Recipe: Tacos Sudados

In a country where Mexican menus are dominated by tacos, enchiladas, and tamales, it's surprising that tacos sudados haven't become more popular, since they're essentially a cross between all three. Tacos sudados go by many names in Mexico: tacos de canasta and tacos al vapor are two of the more common aliases.

They're tacos, in that they're tortillas folded (not rolled) around a filling, in this case shredded and sautéed vegetables; they're enchiladas, in that the tortillas are dipped in chile sauce; and they're tamales in that they're steamed in a big pot, though without the dried corn husks used for tamales.

They're also very easy to make.

You'll need about a dozen tortillas, chile morita sauce, zucchini, onions, requesón (Mexican farmer's cheese, like ricotta), and oil. For garnishing, a little crema (runny sour cream) is very nice. If you make the tortillas, make them slightly thicker than you normally would; if you buy them, buy from a reputable tortillería, and not off the shelf at Albertsons or Ralphs, because those will disintegrate in the sauce.

Zucchini and requesón filling

4 medium zucchini, shredded
3/4 medium onion, shredded (save the rest for the salsa)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup requesón or ricotta
Olive oil

1. Toss the shredded zucchini and onion with the salt and let stand 20 minutes.

2. Rinse off the salt, then press the shreds to remove most of the water.

3. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the vegetables until they start to singe just slightly.

4. While still warm, mix in the requesón or ricotta until it disperses evenly through the filling.

Salsa de chile morita y jitomate

4 chiles morita (available at any Mexican market)
4 large very ripe tomatoes (I used Brandywine)
1/4 small onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper
Boiling water

1. Toast the chiles whole on a dry pan until they're slightly softened, then soak them in very hot (nearly boiling) water for five minutes.

2. Snip off the hard stems of the chiles with scissors, then put them, seeds and all, into a blender with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, vinegar, oregano, a big pinch of salt, and some pepper.

3. Blend until smooth, adding a little of the chile soaking water if needed.

4. Cook in a saucepan until the salsa is just slightly more watery than you would like (it will tighten up as it cools).

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