Calabacitas y Elote con Rajas y Crema

This beautiful recipe name translates to “creamy zucchini, corn, and roasted poblanos, and I happened upon it on The Splendid Table website. If you’re not familiar with The Splendid Table, it was originally a food program on National Public Radio, hosted by the splendid Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

Her voice is like sweet nectar, if nectar could talk. You can listen to her here, on You Tube, discussing her years hosting The Splendid Table.

Ms. Kasper retired after 20 years, but The Splendid Table has expanded and now offers podcasts, recipes, interviews, and more. If you want to hear The Splendid Table, check out American Public Media to find the schedule.

The new host is a young man named Francis Lam, who “leads listeners on a journey of the senses and hosts discussions with a variety of writers and personalities who share their passion for the culinary delights.” He’s the one interviewing Ms. Kasper in the you tube video.

This perfect late summer recipe, is a Rick Bayless recipe, from his cookbook More Mexican Everyday, published in 2015, which is one of the few I don’t own. It’s a mixture of zucchini, corn, and roasted chile peppers in cream, used as a taco filling!

This is the photo from the website. The taco filling looks way more crema’d than mine, and I actually followed the recipe. So if you want the filling creamier, add more crema.

Ms. Kasper interviewed Rick Bayless and this is the recipe he describes on air. I’ve adjusted the recipe to read as a recipe, not a story!

Creamy Zucchini, Corn, and Roasted Poblanos Taco Filling
Calabacitas y Elote con Rajas y Crema
printable recipe below

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 zucchini, about 1 pound total, cut into cubes a little smaller than 1/2″
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 cups poblano rajas (recipe below)
2 tablespoons Mexican crema
1 sprig epazote or 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled Mexican queso

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When really hot, add the zucchini, stirring and turning the pieces frequently, until they are richly browned all over.

Add the corn and let them brown, for about 2 minutes. I actually browned the corn separately the night before after I cooked corn on the cobs.

Scrape in the 2 cups of rajas, along with the epazote or cilantro (cilantro in my case).

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and add the crema. Taste for salt.

Scrape it into a serving bowl and sprinkled with crumbled queso.

I chose Cotija for my cheese but after-the-fact felt it was too salty.

The great thing about this recipe is that once you’ve made it the first time, you will be able to make it in your sleep. It’s so easy, and the ratios aren’t critical.

A little bit more corn? More crema? It all works.

I did add about 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, however, and liked the addition.

Roasted Poblano Cream
Crema Poblana

4 medium fresh poblano chile peppers, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup Mexican crema
1/2 teaspoon salt

Roast the poblano chiles directly over high heat, turning frequently. The skin of the chiles should blister and blacken.

Place them in a covered bowl or, what I use, which is a paper bag rolled up so that the peppers can steam cook and the peels loosen. After about 15 minutes, take them out and remove the charred skins and the seeds. Briefly rinse the peppers, then slice them into 1/4″ strips.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a very large skillet. When hot, add the white onion and cook until the onion is richly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano.

After a minute, stir in the chile strips and crema.

Continue stirring until the cream has thickened enough to coat the chiles. Season with salt.

Combine the zucchini with the poblano crema, then use as a filling for medium-sized flour tortillas.

Mr. Bayless suggests that the poblano cream sauce is also good with grilled meat, steak, pork chops, broiled fish, chiken or fish tacos. Obviously it goes with everything!






About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Sandhya October 9, 2019 at 7:39 AM - Reply

    This recipe looks so delicious! Love the combination of flavors!

    • chef mimi October 9, 2019 at 8:01 AM - Reply

      Yes, and the creaminess!

      • Kathy March 18, 2022 at 12:21 AM

        Big mistake on the “cumin”. Cumin should not be used in this because of the delicate flavors. Mexican people never use cumin in this dish which is a version of “Calabacitis”. The ratios DO matter so I disagree on that as well. So sorry but I am a purist when it comes to recipes that are traditional & fine the way they are! “Calabacitis” is traditional! Rick’s variation of adding the cheese is a traditional variation that is always eaten with flour tortillas.

      • Chef Mimi March 18, 2022 at 9:10 AM

        Well you’d have to take it up with Rick Bayless! It’s his recipe.

      • Kathy March 18, 2022 at 12:38 AM

        I wanted to add, ONE zucchini does not equal one pound! If you bought a big one is then yes. More like 2 to 4 depending on the size.

  2. Adrianne - Sweet Caramel Sunday October 9, 2019 at 8:07 AM - Reply

    This looks fabulous Mimi!! I love the unique flavours.

    • chef mimi October 9, 2019 at 8:24 AM - Reply

      Very basic ingredients meet in creamy goodness and become spectacular!

  3. David Scott Allen October 9, 2019 at 8:19 AM - Reply

    By complete coincidence, as I am reading this post, I am also making a recipe from The Splendid Table. Everything I’ve ever made from her show or any of her books has been fabulous! We love calabacitas y elote and rajas con crema. Amazing textures and flavors, with just the right amount of heat! Beautiful post!

    • chef mimi October 9, 2019 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      Ah, well I’m not surprised you’re familiar with TST. Didn’t you just love her voice? I didn’t get to listen often because where I’ve lived for the last 30 years i didn’t have to commute! which is great, but that’s when I did most of my radio listening. This dish doesn’t really have heat, per se, although now I want to go sprinkle it with cayenne pepper flakes! But I’ve already made it twice more, which is really rare for me. So much food… you know.

  4. kitchenriffs October 9, 2019 at 9:44 AM - Reply

    I’ve never listened to the Splendid Radio program, but I do have the cookbook (are there more than one? I have one that came out years ago.) Good cookbook. And anything Mr. Bayless turns his hand to is superb. This is exactly my kind of recipe — thanks.

    • chef mimi October 9, 2019 at 11:04 AM - Reply

      I think there was only one book, and I have it also. I should get it out and look at it! I’m sorry you didn’t get to listen to Lynne talk – even people not into food could get sucked in!

  5. Denise Browning October 9, 2019 at 9:49 PM - Reply

    I love Rick Bayless. This Mexican dish looks so delicious. You made me want to give it a try.

    • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 5:49 AM - Reply

      It’s a little time consuming with roasting the chiles, but oh so worth it!

  6. StefanGourmet October 10, 2019 at 6:08 AM - Reply

    This looks great! I’ve been cooking more Mexican food lately and this looks like something to try next time I order poblanos. (My next round of wine dinners are actually going to Mexican food.)

    • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 6:15 AM - Reply

      Oh that’s exciting! Wine pairing is a bit more challenging with Mexican ingredients isn’t it? This dish is mild, at least to me, and when I made it the second time with friends over, I served it with a pinot Gris. That was an easy choice. I served a fresh tomato salad on the side. Wish I could attend one of your wine dinners!

      • StefanGourmet October 10, 2019 at 10:53 AM

        You have a standing invitation for my wine dinners!
        With the poblanos it matters a lot whether you trim the white stuff inside or not.
        Wine pairing is indeed a bit more challenging, but I like a challenge :-)

      • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 10:56 AM

        That is so sweet. Those dates are our Thanksgiving and my daughter’s birthday.

      • StefanGourmet October 11, 2019 at 2:50 AM

        Next wine dinners will be in May or June

      • chef mimi October 11, 2019 at 8:21 AM

        Next August we’re flying to Africa. Last time we took a few days in Amsterdam before flying south, but I have no idea what our itinerary is going to be at this point. I’ll keep you posted!!!

  7. David @ Spiced October 10, 2019 at 6:39 AM - Reply

    Oh man, that roasted poblano cream sounds absolutely amazing! I’m pretty sure I could use that cream in, oh, 100 different recipes. But tacos sound amazing, and I’m thinking I could really get behind this recipe. I’ve been craving tacos lately, and this might be the winner!!

    • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 6:41 AM - Reply

      Not your typical taco, right? But if Rick Bayless says they’re tacos, they are! I’ve already made this two more times, it’s that good. My husband loved it, and he claims he doesn’t like sour cream 🤣🤣🤣

  8. October 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM - Reply

    This dish looks mouthwatering with that yummy crema. I love Mexican cuisine. All the best xxx

    • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 10:36 AM - Reply

      It’s so flavorful and satisfying!

  9. mary anderson October 10, 2019 at 10:28 AM - Reply

    i love these kind of recipes because its easy for me to make and my kids actually loved it every time. i wonder if i can subsitute some of the ingredients because mostly i can’t find them at the grocery stores. thanks :)

    • chef mimi October 10, 2019 at 10:35 AM - Reply

      You can’t find zucchini and canned corn? Or frozen corn? Oh my. Well I have no idea what you’d use. You could always use canned diced green chile peppers if you can’t find the poblanos.

  10. cookingontheweekends October 11, 2019 at 12:14 AM - Reply

    Love The Splendid Table and this recipe looks amazing. Not sure what’s more beautiful, the food, or those pretty glass tiles beneath it. :-) Poblanos are my favorite peppers, especially when roasted. Yum! ~Valentina

    • chef mimi October 11, 2019 at 8:21 AM - Reply

      Thanks for noticing! those are tiles that were used in a guest cottage i just had built on our property! I love them so much! This dish isn’t pretty, but it’s so good I’ve made it twice again already!

  11. 2pots2cook2pots2cook October 11, 2019 at 3:43 AM - Reply

    Honestly, love everything with zucchini and if I can be creative with the quantities, even better… always adjustable to what is in the fridge. Printed, dear Mimi ! Thank you !

    • chef mimi October 11, 2019 at 8:19 AM - Reply

      The poblano and crema mixture is critical, but otherwise it’s really what you want to use. But zucchini should be used. I love it, too!

  12. Jeff the Chef October 12, 2019 at 8:10 AM - Reply

    I’m a fan of every part of this post. I love Splendid Table. Used to love the part where you’d tell Lynne what’s in your fridge and she’d tell you what to make. Love Rick Bayless. Topolabampo is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. And I love corn, crema, and tortillas!

    • chef mimi October 12, 2019 at 8:13 AM - Reply

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, that was my favorite part as well because I could keep up with everything she created! (Only because we had some very lean years and because of that I got really creative with anything and everything in the fridge!) I’ve only been to Frontera, but it was perfect. This dish is outstanding, not surprisingly. Not what you’d expect for a taco filling. I had to add grilled chicken when I served it to my husband.

  13. Ron October 13, 2019 at 3:25 AM - Reply

    Mimi, first a big thank you for letting me know that The Splendid Table is still being broadcast. I went to my Spotify account searched and there it was. I will be binge listening in the coming days.
    This is a great dish and one I’d surely cook if we could get poblano ( or anything close) peppers here. I’m planning to try and grow some this next season, so I’m pinning this for future use.

    • chef mimi October 13, 2019 at 8:08 AM - Reply

      I have an easy time growing chile peppers, but I know your weather is a bit different… The Splendid Table will never be the same without LRK, but I’m sure it’s still good and entertaining. I haven’t listened yet.

  14. October 13, 2019 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    This looks great Mimi. I really should look to cook more Mexican food. It’s so flavourful.

    • chef mimi October 13, 2019 at 3:41 PM - Reply

      Oh, it’s so flavorful. And so similar to Indian in some ways!

  15. October 13, 2019 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    This is my kind of taco filling – I have to make these for myself because most of the family wants “Taco Bell” tacos – yuck! Great recipe (s)!

    • chef mimi October 13, 2019 at 4:59 PM - Reply

      Right. I get it. These are fabulous, although I did have to add grilled chicken to my husband’s tacos when I served him this!

  16. Katerina October 13, 2019 at 7:03 PM - Reply

    I have never heard of The Splendid Table but, after checking out their amazing website, I will definitely be listening to their podcast. Thanks for the tip! And, I must say, I agree with David – I love the sound of the roasted poblano cream; I bet it takes the taco to a whole new level!

    • chef mimi October 14, 2019 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      It really does. And who doesn’t like a creamy sauce?!!

  17. sippitysup October 14, 2019 at 9:49 AM - Reply

    I think less creamy is better. This is so much exactly the way I like to eat. Beautifully photographed too! GREG

    • chef mimi October 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM - Reply

      Really? It was hard to make look as good as it was! I have a thing for crema, but I left it as is, based on actually (pretty much) following the recipe. It’s so good with Salsa.

  18. Laura October 14, 2019 at 12:52 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I love Rick Bayless recipes, and this one looks so darn tasty! I love the idea of poblano crema with sweet corn. This sounds lip-smacking delish!

    • chef mimi October 15, 2019 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      Thanks. Thanks to rick bayless! It’s such an unexpected taco filling, but really satisfying!

  19. heather (delicious not gorgeous) October 14, 2019 at 10:06 PM - Reply

    anything with corn! the poblano crema sounds spicy but also balanced (which is good because i cannot handle a ton of spice haha)

    • chef mimi October 15, 2019 at 7:03 AM - Reply

      Poblanos are not spicy, especially after they’re roasted. They’re like the green chiles you can get canned, although much better when you start with fresh! And yes, with the corn it’s all really good!

  20. Frank Fariello October 19, 2019 at 9:35 AM - Reply

    I found this in Rick Bayless’s cookbook some years ago and I love it! Makes a really delicious, quick and light weeknight supper.

    Now I have to confess I never did take to Lynn Rosetto Casper. I know… but it was one of those things where someone rubs you the wrong way and you can’t really say why? I’m liking The Splendid Table much more now that it’s hosted by Francis Lam. Don’t judge me… ;-)

    • chef mimi October 19, 2019 at 12:52 PM - Reply

      No judging of course! I really just loved her voice. Glad you already discovered this recipe. It is really fabulous.

  21. FrugalHausfrau October 30, 2019 at 11:03 AM - Reply

    Oh my gosh, I love the splendid table and love Bayless and I know I’d love this recipe! As soon as I saw the words elotes and rajas I was already primed! Gorgeous photos, Mimi!

    • chef mimi October 30, 2019 at 1:31 PM - Reply

      Thanks! Yes, such fabulous ingredients!

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