Black Bean Tacos with Zucchini Salsa

Healthy beans & greens tacos and a creamy avocado-zucchini salsa make a crowd-pleasing spring or summer dinner. Vegan. Gluten-free option.

It’s funny when inspiration strikes, or where a good idea finds you…The other day I was sitting at the Discount Tire store, waiting on my car…bored out of my mind. Just me and my phone. After every last email had been replied to and every last tweet read, I went to my go-to time-passing app, Epicurious. They aren’t paying me to write this, but I love this app. It saves me every time… dentist offices, bad movies, you name it…

I stopped on this zucchini salsa recipe which completely intrigued me. How could zucchini possibly become a replacement for tomatillos? I don’t know, but I was convinced enough to give it a try (with a few tweaks).

The base of the salsa is zucchini, onions, cilantro and lime juice. I mixed in some chopped avocado, and it became something special.

The salsa is on the tangy side, so I cooked up my black beans in a salty smokey way to counterbalance, with cumin, coriander, paprika & some cayenne. I have Swiss chard growing like crazy in my garden, and I had one leek, so I did a little green sauté to continue the green theme of this taco.

With the leftovers (you might actually want to make extra salsa so you have some leftover), I made breakfast tacos the next morning. Same stuff… add eggs.

Salsa adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010, Ian Knauer.

Black Bean Tacos with Zucchini Salsa

Serves: 3, 2 tacos each
For the zucchini-avocado salsa:
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • Zest from 1 lime and juice from 2 limes (unless your first lime was super juicy)
  • Pinch cayenne or 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
For the black beans:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can black beans (1½ cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ - ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Sea salt
For the chard & leek sauté:
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 4 or 5 large green chard leaves, chopped, including stems
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
To assemble:
  • 6 tortillas
  • ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese (optional)
  1. Make the zucchini-avocado salsa: Place the zucchini, cilantro, onion, lime zest and juice, cayenne, honey, and pinches of salt and pepper in a food processor and process to form a sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and stir in the diced avocado. Taste and adjust again. Set aside.
  2. Make the black beans: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the black beans and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the water, cumin, coriander, paprika, and a pinch of salt, and simmer for a few minutes on low. Taste and adjust seasonings and cover to keep warm.
  3. Make the chard and leek sauté: Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, chard stems, and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook until just wilted. Set aside.
  4. Over an open gas flame or in a skillet, heat each tortilla until a slight char forms. Assemble tacos with the black beans, green sauté, and the zucchini-avocado salsa. Top with the cotija cheese, if using, and serve. Best served with margaritas.




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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Carrie from

    Just made this for dinner – so delicious! I used a whole jalapeno for the salsa and used feta because I couldn’t find cojita at the store. The flavors are awesome, I will definitely make this again 🙂

    • jeanine

      Thanks for sharing Carrie! Glad you liked it…

  2. rachel from

    This looks wonderful! That app has also saved me from twiddling my thumbs and twirling my hair many a time. Can’t wait to give this a try! Gorgeous photos by the way. Love your blog!

  3. um yes, I will be trying this! love tacos and the idea of doing a hearty flavorful black bean in substitute for meat. We eat tons of black beans, avocado etc in our house. nom.

  4. ChaCha

    Just made these for lunch today. Only substitution was crumbled queso fresco instead of cotija. Absolutely delicious!!

    • jeanine

      thanks for sharing!

  5. Yum! This looks so delicious. We’ve been on a taco kick lately, gotta put this one into rotation.

  6. Marie from

    Oh these tacos look absolutely irresistible! And I absolutely love the idea of putting an egg on it the next morning. Definitely added to my “to-make” list, I can’t wait to enjoy them at home!
    P.S. Who needs meat when vegetarian looks so good?

  7. What a delicious looking plate! Mexican food is something I crave constantly. Cumin, lime, and avocado could sustain me for life! *hah* Cannot wait to try the salsa. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. I am so so smitten with this recipe, Jeanine! Zucchini salsa… genius.

  9. JenB

    what should I substitute for cotija cheese if it’s not available where I live? thanks, can’t wait to make this… hopefully tomorrow 🙂

    • jeanine

      Ricotta salata or feta… or really any cheese you like on tacos… shredded jack or mozzarella would be fine too.

  10. Mena from menamtz

    Me mueeeeero quiero comer toooodo lo que preparas ya!!!! y estos tacos esta noche estaran seguro en la mesa de mi casa.

    Saludos desde Venezuela.

    I just love the picts, the idea and all the green!

  11. Eileen from

    Hmm, intriguing! I actually have some zucchini kicking around at home, and no plan for using them–I guess I’d better go find an avocado!

  12. alison from

    These look amazing! My mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Sara from

    So simply perfect. Love a good veggie taco and what a perfect spot for some eggs too!

  14. Julia from

    We got our tires from Discount Tires too, funny!
    These look wonderful! SO flavorful and fresh.

  15. cassie from

    I would love to munch on these for lunch today. LOVE it!

  16. Kelly from

    These tacos look amazing! I have to admit, I eat black bean tacos several times a week – it’s my quick and easy meal that I don’t ever get tired of. I really love the idea of using chard, and adding raw zucchini to the guacamole/salsa is a great idea.

  17. ileana from

    These tacos and those tortillas look fantastic. Loving the extra pictures on this post!

  18. Since moving to the Netherlands, I’ve missed Mexican food TERRIBLY — this is exactly the sort of simple, fresh fix that helps get me out of my self-pity. (:

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.