Achiote Rubbed Squash Tacos

Kids often see peppers and are concerned that they’re spicy. Poblano peppers (sometimes called ancho peppers), used here, are one of the mildest available, so they are a great ingredient to use in introducing kids to Latin flavors. Achiote (ah-chee-oh-tay) paste, usually sold in bricks in the ethnic foods section, is similarly mild. It has an earthy flavor that perfectly complements the sweetness of butternut squash. This recipe comes to us from Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious.

Food for thought: Peppers range in spiciness, and poblanos are on the mild end. They rank slightly above bell peppers, but much lower than jalapenos on the official heat scale (called the Scoville scale by scientists!)

To make the squash poblano pepper filling:

Together: Mix the achiote paste with a small amount of hot water. Working in the sink, use your hands to break up the paste until it thoroughly dissolved. Rub it on all sides of the butternut squash slabs and set aside. Wash your hands, this stuff stains!

Adult: Prepare a grill (or grill pan) for direct high heat. Place the poblano peppers on the grill and char them, rotating every 4-5 minutes or until they are black on all sides.

Together: Remove from the grill and put them in a covered bowl for 10 minutes so that they rest in their own steam.

Adult: Reduce the heat of the grill by adjusting the gas or grilling the squash using only the side area. Put squash slices over medium-low heat and cook both sides for about 3 minutes per side, or until thoroughly tender.

Together: When peppers have steamed for 10 minutes, remove from the covered bowl. Peel and seed the poblanos and cut into small dice.

Kid: Toss the squash and poblanos along with a 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Place in a bowl and top with a dab of sour cream and some chopped cilantro.

To complete the tacos:

Kid: Wrap the tortillas in a moistened towel and microwave for 90 seconds to soften.

Together: Slice the onions and limes and chop the cilantro. Crumble the cheese.

Together: Bring squash poblano pepper filling, red onion, lime wedges, panella cheese, cilantro and hot sauce to the table. For most structurally sound results wrap squash filling, onion and cheese in two soft tortillas per taco. Season taco with cilantro, hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.

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