This is the PERFECT late-summer recipe if you have a ton of squash and don't know what to do with it. I made it in the traditional New Mexican way by adding fresh corn and Hatch Green Chiles, so if you like squash - this oil-free Calabacitas recipe is for you.
Calabacitas literally translates to "Little Squash" and has been a popular New Mexican dish for centuries. It is pueblo in origin and was first recorded in the 1500s. Trade routes resulted in the addition of New Mexico chiles, but many recipes leave them out.
There are hundreds of variations, some adding tomato, some garlic, and some even add cheese. Individual taste will determine what types are made, but the base recipe is always onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and some kind of pepper.
I had completely forgotten about this recipe, which is embarrassing since I lived in New Mexico for 10 years, but this article is what inspired me to make it for you.
The ingredients are simple and few, and no fancy equipment or preparation is necessary.
We start by dicing an onion, yellow, red, or white will do but I tend to use white. Set those aside and chop up 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash and add those to a bowl. Then carefully cut off the kernels from 1 ear of fresh corn into another bowl. Canned corn will work, you'll need about a cup, but why not use fresh if it's in season?
Saute your onion first in a little veg broth. We don't want to just soften the onions, let them go for at least 15 minutes until they start to caramelize. If the pan gets too dry, just add a little more broth. Use low heat here - if you try to rush the caramelization process by using higher heat - you'll end up with burned onions.
Next, add your squash and ¾ cup of diced tomatoes. Give it a good stir, set your heat to medium, and cover for 5-10 minutes. Do not overcook your squash - nobody likes mushy squash.
Next, we stir in a teaspoon (or more) of minced garlic, and your choice of chile peppers.
- Option 1: You can use the little 4oz cans of green chile you see in the stores
- Option 2: You could use a roasted poblano pepper
- Option 3: What I used was ½ cup of sauce from this bottle of Green Chile Sauce I found at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger). They have different heat levels so choose whatever you're comfortable with.
I found the same sauce on Amazon and remember, this is an affiliate link, so I do earn a little bit from qualified purchases at no extra cost to you.
Stir well and let those chiles and tomatoes simmer for a few minutes to make the absolutely gorgeous sauce that brings this recipe together.
Finally, add your fresh corn and the seasonings. Simmer another minute while stirring it all together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To garnish, add some fresh cilantro if you're into that, and I added a vegan replica of the Queso Fresco cheese crumbles used in many Mexican Recipes. Of course, this is optional but it does add a nice finish to the recipe.
I have a recipe to make that Cheese here.
That's it - and wow, sorry I have been gone so long between recipes. But I am happy to say I am BACK and I hope you like the recipe.
It tastes FRESH, it tastes like SUMMER, and to me .... it tastes like NEW MEXICO.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 35 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 Servings 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Low Fat
This is the PERFECT late-summer recipe. I used fresh summer squash, fresh corn, and Hatch Chiles. If you like squash these Calabacitas are for you!
- 1 white onion
- 2 zucchini squash
- 2 yellow squash
- ¾ cup diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ½ cup Hatch green chiles (or sub 4oz can)
- 1 cup fresh corn on the cob
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
- vegan queso fresco for garnish (optional)
- Dice onion, place in a bowl and set aside.
- Chop squash into bite-sized pieces and place in a separate bowl
- Carefully cut the corn off the cob into a third bowl and set aside
- In a large skillet, slowly saute onions over low heat for at least 15-20 min, use veg broth or water to prevent sticking. Cook until they turn a nice golden tan (caramelized).
- Add squash and tomatoes, mix well, increase heat to med, and cover 5-10 min. Do not overcook!
- Add garlic and chiles, stir to combine. Heat 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in corn and seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook an addition 1-2 minutes and serve with fresh cilantro and/or my vegan queso fresco
Keywords: oil-free Calabacitas
Would those green chilies be the same as using salsa verde, if need be?
I mean like Herdez Saksa Verde which has a nice bite?
salsa verde is mostly tomatillos - so no
Question about corn on cob: assuming I need to cook it first as it’s not cooked with the other ingredients?
No - it was raw
There is a Mexican restaurant near me which uses this plus fresh mushrooms to fill their veggie quesadilla. So good! Now I can try to make my own at home using your recipe. .
I just made this and enjoyed it very much, I did add a little tomato sauce with a little water cause I like the taste of fresh tomatoes and canned tomato sauce and my mom used to always use it in hers. I completely read over the oregano but I didn’t miss it. I didn’t have hatch chili so used a can of what I had. . I made it with just one yellow squash and one zucchini but used same measurements of everything else. Very good and healthy, paired well with my Mexican rice and pinto beans and homemade salsa of course. Thanks again, nice to see you adding your recipes again.
Hi Chuck, I'm making this tonight with the queso fresco. Do you suggest pouring off the marinade for this dish, or tossing everything in? Thanks! Will let you know how we like it. I am using some frozen roasted Hatch chiles. Excited to try this!
I just made this for dinner tonight. It was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly, did not include the "cheese". Served it with brown rice. I can't wait for the leftovers tomorrow!
I just made your recipe today. I had calabasitas squash on hand so that is what I used. I used 1/2 of a jalapeno that I had deveined and taken the seeds out of and a tablespoon of poblano Chile I had chopped and frozen. Then I used canned diced tomatoes and two ears of corn. I love black beans and need the protein they provide as I am 14 years post gastric bypass, so I served the calabasitas over the beans. Hubby doesn't care for black beans?. Long story short, it was delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'll be back for more assistance later. I need a recipe that is easy for a first time tofu maker.