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Butternut Squash Flautas With Salsa Verde Cruda

Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Butternut squash adds a meaty texture to these vegetarian flautas, topped with salty feta and fresh, tart raw salsa verde.
(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)
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Butternut squash makes an ideal filling for these flautas, especially when steamed so it retains a firm texture to bite into. You’ll need 12 toothpicks to secure the ends of the tortillas as you roll them around the squash filling. Fried until crispy, these vegetarian flautas are gilded further with a drizzle of cream, a showering of salty feta and spoonfuls of a bright, fresh raw salsa verde.

1

Pour water into a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch, then place a steamer basket in the pan; bring the water to a boil. Add the squash cubes to the steamer basket, cover the pan and steam until a fork can easily pierce the squash but it is still firm, about 15 minutes.

2

While the squash cooks, make the salsa verde: Combine the tomatillos, the smashed garlic clove and the serrano chile in a blender or food processor without any liquid; puree until smooth. Add the cilantro, the ¼ cup roughly chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt, then pulse to combine. Transfer the salsa to a bowl.

3

Also while the squash cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent but not browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the finely chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat until the squash is ready.

4

Carefully lift the steamer basket out of the pot and transfer the squash to a large bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, lightly mash all the squash (you do not want it to be super smooth). Add the mashed squash and ½ teaspoon salt to the skillet with the onions and garlic and stir to combine, then cook over medium heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until some of the squash’s moisture has evaporated and it is slightly dry but not browned at all, about 6 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and season the puree with pepper.

5

Make the flautas: Working in batches of three at a time, warm the tortillas on a comal or medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 25 to 30 seconds, flipping halfway through. Once the three tortillas are warm, place them on a work surface and spoon about ¼ cup of the squash mixture in the center of each. Roll each tortilla around its filling, then secure the tortilla ends together with a toothpick so the flautas stay closed. Repeat warming the remaining tortillas in the same manner and making more flautas with the remaining squash mixture.

6

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Carefully add three flautas, toothpick side down, and cook, using tongs to rotate the flautas once or twice, until golden brown and crunchy on all sides, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the flautas to paper towels to absorb excess oil and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat cooking the remaining flautas in batches of three. After the second batch, discard the oil, wipe the skillet clean, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to cook the remaining flautas.

7

Divide the flautas among serving plates and spoon over the salsa verde. Drizzle with the crema and sprinkle with the crumbled feta to serve.