Tacos de Rajas, Elote y Acelgas con Crema y Queso Panela

Strips of roasted poblano, sweet yellow corn, chard and panela cheese come together in a simple cream sauce for an easy, tasty vegetarian taco.

Tacos filled with roasted poblano, corn and chard in cream sauce.

Poblano peppers are hands down my favorite chile. In their raw form, they add more punch than a green bell pepper and when roasted, their flavor is intensified, the flesh becoming at once sweet and mildly spicy.

Growing up, I was much more familiar with Anaheim peppers, the pepper of choice for my parents when they made chiles rellenos. The dried version of an Anaheim, chile California, was the basis for most of the red sauces they made. I think my dad might have used fresh poblanos maybe only once or twice to make his version of chiles rellenos. The dried version of a poblano, chile ancho, made a regular appearance in his homemade chorizo.

A wooden bowl corrals chard and poblano peppers.

It wasn’t until I was older and in charge of my own kitchen that I began experimenting with poblanos, using them mostly for chiles rellenos. I didn't discover rajas con crema until just a few years ago, and I gotta say, my tastebuds exploded.

Ingredients include poblanos, chard, corn, onions, cheese, Mexican crema.

What are “rajas con crema”?

Rajas mean strips in Spanish while crema translates to cream. This classic Mexican dish of roasted poblano strips in cream sauce is deceptively complex-tasting and wholly satisfying for a recipe that is so ridiculously simple.

Three poblano peppers roasted directly on the grate of a gas stove.
Three roasted and charred poblano peppers on a chopping board.
Use a spoon to scrape off the charred skin of a roasted poblano.
The steps to removing seeds from a roasted poblano pepper.
Roasted poblano peppers cut into strips.

I take some liberties with the ingredients that I feel make this lighter than the original without compromising the taste or spirit of the dish. In my version of this classic guisado (stew), I’ve drastically cut back on the dairy to lower the fat and calories.

Typically made with cream cheese, Mexican crema, and plenty of good melting cheese like Mexican manchego or Oaxacan cheese, I only use the Mexican crema and some cubed queso panela to finish. Though the original is arguably sinfully delicious, it’s a bit too rich for me and my lactose sensitive tummy. Plus, all that cheese winds up taking center stage over the roasted poblanos, which, in my opinion, should be the star of the dish.

Chard on a chopping board, stem removed, leaves cut.
Cooking down onions in a skillet
Sautéed onions in a skillet with spices added.

The poblano strips are accompanied by sliced onions, and with just those and the cream, you can call it a day and be in rajas heaven. However, I love to amp up the nutrition factor by adding more veg. Today, I’m tossing in sweet, in-season corn and a few large leaves of chard (acelegas, in Spanish).

Roasted poblano strips and fresh corn kernels in a pan over onions.
Skillet on the stove with veg and spices.
Mound of chard in a skillet on the stove.
Chard in a skillet on the stove.
Chard, corn, onions, roasted poblano peppers in a skillet on the stove.

What other vegetables can you add to rajas con crema?

  • Spinach (if you can’t find chard)
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Mexican squash
  • Chayote
  • Green beans
  • Nopales
Cream being added to a pan of vegetables.
A skillet with roasted poblanos, corn and chard in cream sauce.
Corn tortillas warmed on a gas stove.

How do you serve rajas con crema?

Rajas con crema can be served over arroz blanco (white rice) or arroz rojo (Mexican red rice). It is also fantastic served over spaghetti. Personally, I love it as a messy, gets-all-over-your-fingers-and-drips-down-your-chin taco. And preferably, that taco is made with a corn tortilla and not a flour one.

Tacos filled with roasted poblano, corn and chard in cream sauce.

Alternately, when prepping the peppers and veg, chop all of the ingredients a similar size. Then serve the rajas con crema as an antojito (appetizer) with plenty of tortilla chips for scooping.

Rajas con crema might seem like a simple vegetarian meal, but don’t be fooled. Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the most satisfying.

Rajas con crema tacos with wine and refried beans.

Rajas, Elote y Acelgas con Crema y Queso Panela

(Poblano, Corn and Chard with Cream and Panela cheese)
Serves 6


3 large poblano peppers
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large white onion, thinly sliced
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
4 leaves chard, thick ribs removed and discarded, leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
¼ cup water
1½ teaspoons Knorr Chicken Bouillon
⅔ cup Mexican crema
1 cup cubed queso panela
12 corn tortillas, warmed


Roast the poblanos on the stovetop, either directly on the grates over the open flames if you have a gas stove or on a hot skillet or griddle over medium-high heat on an electric one. Once the skins have blistered and charred, remove them to a plastic bag or bowl (covered) to sweat for 10 to 15 minutes while you slice the onion, mince the garlic and chop the chard as indicated in the ingredient list.

When the peppers have cooled enough to handle, use your fingers or a spoon to scrape off and discard their skins. Slice off and discard the tops of the peppers. Slit the peppers open and remove and discard the seeds and veins. Slice the peppers into about 2-inch long by about ½-inch wide strips.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Toss in the butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper and oregano, stirring to combine and cook for 1 minute. Drop in the corn and the poblano strips, tossing until well incorporated. Add a third of the chard and toss to wilt. Continue adding and tossing until all the chard has been combined. Stir in the water and bouillon, cover pan, and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes.

Add the crema, stirring until thoroughly combined. Fold in the cheese and cook for 2 minutes to heat through. To serve, mound 2 or 3 generous tablespoons in the center of a warmed tortilla and fold into a taco. Alternately, serve over rice or spaghetti.

Until next time, friends … !Buen Provecho!
xo, ani 

Tacos filled with roasted poblano, corn and chard in cream sauce.