Chaia's Smoky Zucchini Tacos

Chaia’s Smoky Zucchini Tacos

Jul 19, 2015 by Christine

If you’re from DC you’re lucky to have tasted Chaia’s amazing seasonal, plant-based tacos. These tacos have started a cult following with people willing to stand in veeerrrry long lines at the farmers’ market. We have endless debates on why they’re so good. Is it the fresh tortillas that made us go out and buy our own tortilla press? The seasonal veggies that are so simply prepared you wonder how they could taste so good? Probably all of the above. Which is why we begged and begged for the recipe to share with you guys. And they’re opening a brick and mortar restaurant at 3207 Grace St NW in Washington DC in just a couple short months!


Smoky Zucchini with Olio Piccante, Goat Cheese & Mint

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 lb zucchini
  • homemade corn tortillas
  • 6 tbsp creamy chèvre
  • ¼ cup fresh mint

→ The Olio Piccante makes more than you need for this recipe, but use it on sandwiches, eggs, or whatever needs a little pick-me-up.

  1. To make olio: In saucepan, combine olive oil, jalapeño peppers, crushed red peppers, paprika, salt, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl to let cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Strain oil and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use. It can last up to ten days in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Trim off zucchini ends and then make ¼-⅓” wide, 3” long zucchini pieces. Toss with with olio and roast until just tender. Add more salt, but only if needed.
  4. Serve in homemade corn tortillas spread with about one tablespoon each of goat cheese and garnish with fresh mint.

Chaia’s Homemade Corn Tortillas

We learned to make our homemade tortillas while travelling in Mexico. Using the corn tortillas as a base, the idea of filling a tortilla originated from farmers’ wives taking the midday meal out to the fields. The tortillas were used as the wrapping. When they are made fresh, they are soft and bursting with flavor. You will need to invest in a tortilla press to make these at home. Also, use Bob’s Red Mill or natural Maseca brand.

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • sea salt, a generous pinch
  • 1½ cups water, warm, up to 2 cups if needed
  • extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle

→ Makes about 12-15 tortillas.

  1. In a large bowl, combine the masa harina and salt. Add water and mix with your hands. If the masa seems dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until it is not dry, but not so much water that the masa sticks to your hands. The masa will dry out quickly so cover it with a warm, moist kitchen towel if you need to step away for a few minutes.
  2. Next, form the masa into even balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place the dough balls covered with plastic wrap on a baking sheet until you are ready to press them flat. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high. While the skillet is getting hot, press the tortillas.
  3. Cut the top and sides off of a plastic freezer bag leaving the bottom intact. Place the open bag inside the press. Place the masa ball between the two sides of the freezer bag and press into flat tortillas. Peel open the freezer bag and pull off the tortilla carefully.
  4. Place the tortillas (one at a time depending on the diameter of your pan) on to the hot skillet and allow them to become warm and lightly brown. Use a spatula to turn them over. Place them in a napkin-lined basket and cover to keep warm.
  5. Store leftover tortillas wrapped in a sealable plastic bag. Rewarm them in a hot pan or in the microwave for about a minute.