A torta is a type of Mexican sandwich, often served on a soft roll called a telera and packed with all kinds of delectable fillings. These chorizo-spiced delicata squash tortas—from Esteban Castillo’s Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen—are a vegetarian version we’re itching to make for fall.
“My dad has been working in construction for most of his life,” Castillo writes, “and for as long as I’ve known him, he has woken up at 4 a.m. every day to make the long commute to different jobs around Los Angeles. Mi mamá has woken up just as early to make sure he has lunch to take with him. When there wasn’t any meat or leftover proteins, she’d pack him a very basic torta with slices of tomato, crema, and queso fresco. It was so simple, yet satisfying, and it is one of the tortas that I have gone back to time and time again.
“Her torta has evolved in my hands,” he continues, “and now includes roasted delicata squash tossed in my very own chorizo spice blend. If you don’t feel like making tortas, this recipe doubles as a taco recipe! Simply sauté the squash, toss it in the chorizo spice mix and serve it on a tortilla with your favorite taco fixings.”
From the book Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Copyright © 2020 by Esteban Castillo. Published on June 30, 2020 by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
Delicata Squash Rings with Garlic-Lemon Sauce
Chorizo Spice Mix
4 large guajillo chiles (about 5½ inches long)
1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1½ teaspoons granulated garlic
1½ teaspoons granulated onion
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Two 1-pound delicata squashes—halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out and sliced into ½-inch half-rings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 telera rolls, halved and toasted
Sliced tomato, Crumbled Cotija cheese (or your favorite vegan substitute), Mayonnaise (or your favorite vegan substitute) and crema Mexicana, as needed
1. Make the Spice Mix: Preheat the oven to 275°F. Place the chiles on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
2. Add the peppers to a spice grinder or a high-powered blender and grind them down until you get an even, granulated consistency. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
3. Add the salt, garlic, onion, oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, allspice, cinnamon and cloves to the jar with the ground peppers, then place the lid on and shake to combine. This spice mix can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
4. Make the Filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
5. Toss the squash with the oil on the prepared baking sheet and arrange so all the squash pieces are in a single layer, not overlapping. Roast the squash for 20 minutes, then carefully flip each piece and roast until the squash is cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
6. In a large bowl, lightly toss the roasted squash with the chorizo spice mixture and allow to cool slightly before assembling the tortas.
7. To Assemble: Spread mayonnaise on each half of a telera, then place a few slices of tomato and a small pile of squash on the bottom half of the telera. Sprinkle crumbled Cotija over the squash then finish with a drizzle of crema, then place the top half of the roll on top.