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Zucchini Taco Shells with Beef and Zucchini-Tomato Salsa

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 8 small tacos
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Zucchini Taco Shells:

4 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound each)

Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the parchment

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces) 

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions 

1 teaspoon chili powder 

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

2 eggs

Zucchini-Tomato Salsa:

3/4 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves 

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 medium zucchini, finely chopped 

Juice of 1/2 lime 

Taco Filling and Fixings:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground beef 

1 shallot, finely chopped 

1 serrano chile, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons) 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 to 2 ears corn, husked and kernels removed (about 1 1/2 cups kernels)

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

One 15-ounce can refried beans, warmed 

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese 


  1. For the zucchini taco shells: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Grate the zucchini with a box grater or the shredder attachment on a food processor; after doing so, you should have about 4 cups. Place the zucchini in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high, stirring after 3 1/2 minutes, until tender and liquid has collected in the bottom of the bowl, about 7 minutes. Set the zucchini aside until it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Once cool, use a slotted spoon (or your hands) to transfer it to a kitchen towel or piece of cheesecloth; roll up the cloth and twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Squeeze hard to get out all the excess water; this is crucial to getting good taco shells. You should end up with about 2 cups of shredded cooked zucchini.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with cooking oil to help prevent sticking. Add the zucchini, Parmesan, scallions, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and eggs to a medium bowl; stir until blended into a dough. Scoop this mixture into 1/4-cup-size balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Use your hand to flatten each ball into a very thin 5-inch diameter round, about 1/8 inch thick. Bake the shells until they are brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Let them cool and then remove them from the parchment.
  5. For the zucchini-tomato salsa: Add the tomatoes, basil, mint, salt, zucchini and lime juice to a medium bowl and toss together.
  6. For the taco filling and fixings: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, shallot, serrano and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook this mixture until the beef is done through and the veggies are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels, ancho chile powder, cumin, 1/4 cup water and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook this mixture for 3 minutes more, adding more water if needed to thin the taco filling out.
  7. Spread about 1/4 cup of the refried beans onto each zucchini taco shell. Place 1/4 cup of the beef filling onto each, then top with 1 heaping tablespoon of the zucchini tomato salsa and 1 heaping teaspoon of the feta. Fold up and enjoy!