Sweet Potato Tacos with Blue Corn Tortillas


Braised sweet potatoes make a fantastic taco filling. Use the filling on it’s own or as a, accompaniment to chicken, pork or beef tacos. Serve these tacos with the accompaniments below and homemade tortillas which are worth the effort! The flavor is sweet and “corny” and delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 2 tsp. cumin

  • 2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 12oz. bottle beer (such as a lager or Modelo Negra)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Pickled Radishes

  • 1  jalapeño (thinly sliced)

  • 1 1/2 cups radishes, thinly sliced (one large bunch)

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 3 whole black peppercorns

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 Tbls. sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

To serve:

Corn tortillas, pickled radishes, shredded cabbage, guacamole, salsa verde, crema, cilantro and hot sauce …

The Pickled Radishes

  1. In a saucepan add white wine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes.

  2. Place jalapeños, radishes, garlic and peppercorns in a large wide-mouthed mason jar.

  3. Pour the hot liquid into the to the mason jar to cover the jalapeños and radishes. Cool then seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator for six hours or overnight.

The Sweet Potatoes

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, until onion is slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.

  2. Add the cumin, paprika and ancho chili powder and mix to combine.

  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add about three fourths of the beer and gently boil sweet potatoes uncovered, stirring occasionally until beer reduces.

  5. Add more beer if needed and simmer, covered for a total of 10-15 minutes or until just tender and not mushy.

Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali.


Homemade tortillas are so tasty! They are worth the effort and fun to make. If you’re hosting a crowd, set up a tortilla station and let guests make them for you. If you’ve got kids, get them in the kitchen and have them make the tortillas. The picture above is tacos and tortillas made by my summer camp kids.

Makes about 10 tortillas

  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina - not cornmeal or corn flour. Blue corn masa carina can be found at Mexican grocery stores including Chavez Market

  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and ground cumin

  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or good quality vegetable oil

  • 1 gallon size plastic bag cut around the edges to create 2 plastic sheets

  • A tortilla press

  1. Combine the masa harina, salt, cumin, and Aleppo pepper in a bowl. Stir in the oil and then slowly stream in 1 cup of hot water until a dough forms. Knead until all is incorporated and smooth.

  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Heat a dry cast iron pan, grilled or heavy bottomed pan.

  4. Take small pinches of dough, about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into a ball then pat the ball into a disk. You can also roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic for 30 minutes and then slice the log into rounds.

  5. Place one plastic sheet on your press, add the disk of dough and then the second sheet. This will keep the tortilla from sticking. Press the dough to create a thin tortilla.

  6. Carefully place tortillas on the hot pan. Fry for about 1 minute (or less) on each side until the dough is cooked and the tortilla is blistered.

  7. Place in a tortilla warmer or on a plate and cover with a towel that has been lightly sprinkled with water.

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna

This is perfect as a side dish or an entree. I serve it with a salad of bitter greens like arugula and endive with oranges, pomegranate seeds and a light vinaigrette. Serves 8

This is perfect as a side dish or an entree. I serve it with a salad of bitter greens like arugula and endive with oranges, pomegranate seeds and a light vinaigrette. Serves 8

For squash filling:

  • 2 Tbls. melted butter

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper

  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

  • 2 Tbls chopped fresh sage (ideal) or 2 tsp. powdered dry sage

  • 3 lbs. Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick

  • 1 cup (4 oz) hazelnuts , toasted - remove skins by rubbed off with a kitchen towel and coarsely chop

  • Parchment paper

For the sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter

  • 5 Tbls. all-purpose flour

  • 5 cups milk or chicken stock, or a blend of both, heated with the bay leaf for 10 minutes

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg or to taste

  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste

  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper or to taste

  • Dash cayenne pepper

For assembling lasagna:

  • 12 oz good quality fresh mozzarella, drained well and sliced thinly

  • 3 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino  (1 cup)

  • 12 (7- by 3 1/2-inch) sheets no-boil lasagna (1/2 lbs.)

Make filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚ and cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir the salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage to blend.

  2. In a large bowl, toss the sliced squash with the melted butter. Sprinkle the spice mixture over squash and toss. Place the squash on the parchment-lined cookie sheets in a single layer and roast until just tender, 10- minutes. Toss with a spatula if needed. Cool.

  3. Turn oven to 350˚F

Make sauce while squash cooks:

  1. In a pot, heat the broth and/or milk with the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

  2. Heat 1 Tbls. of the butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not brown. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 5 Tbls. butter in the saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the flour to make a roux whisking until smooth. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring without brown. Remove the bay leaf from the milk/stock and discard.

  4. Pour the stock/milk into the roux in a slow stream whisking all the while. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer. Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes or so.

  5. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon and add the onion-garlic mixture and stir. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Assemble lasagna:

  1. Toss the cheeses together in a small bowl.

  2. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover with 3 to 4 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets.

  3. Spread with ⅔ cup sauce and one third of the squash and chopped hazelnuts, then add ⅓ of the cheese.

  4. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

  5. Butter a piece of foil that will cover your dish. Tightly cover the lasagna with the buttered foil and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes.

  6. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagna stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving

Cook’s note:

  • I have found the hazelnuts pre-skinned at Whole Foods in the bulk section

  • To peel the butternut squash easily, set the entire squash in your oven as it preheats for 5-10 minutes. Test with a sharp knife. After 5 minutes or so the squash will have baked just enough to make the skin soft. Cool and peel the squash with a sharp knife.

  • Filling and sauce can be made one day ahead and kept separately, chilled.

  • Place plastic wrap directly on the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Bring to room temperature before assembling.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December 2001