Make Ahead

Low Desert Calabacitas

June 28, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4-8, depending on how served
Author Notes

Calabacitas, is a traditional dish of the Pueblo people of the Southwest. It reminds me of the East Coast's Succotash, without lima beans. Often, you will see this in the northern portion of the Arizona and in New Mexico as a casserole or wrapped in Navajo fry bread. We see lots of calabacitas down here in the low desert too, often with squash blossoms and nopalitos aka cactus pads. We enjoy the dish as a taco or enchilada filling, or as is with rice. - Gluten? No. Free? Yes!
Gluten? No. Free? Yes!

Test Kitchen Notes

Yum, when I saw this I knew I would make it even before it became an editors pick. Ever since I spent some time in Taos, New Mexico these kinds of regional dishes are always on my radar. I look for them and cling to them like a Leprechaun to a pot of gold. The Low Desert Calabacitas were no exception. Simple and made with seasonal ingredients it just doesn't get better. and I did just like suggested, served them with home made tortillas although I could see this as a side to a grilled lamb roast with a salsa verde. I think the cream was a nice touch and the acidity of the tomatoes cut it just right so it wasn't heavy. - thirschfeld —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 yellow summer squash, sliced into half moons
  • 2 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or thawed frozen
  • 2 green chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded, and sliced thin or 1 can of mild whole green chilies, sliced thin
  • 1 large ripe tomato, large diced
  • 4 green onions or scallions, green and whites, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema, sour cream, fermented pima cream, or alternative nut or seed cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare, more to taste
  1. Heat 1/2 the oil in a large, deep saute pan. Saute the onion with a pinch of sea salt for about 3-5 minutes over medium to medium-high heat, until translucent but not browned.
  2. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the yellow squash and zucchini and saute for about 5-6 minutes longer, until squash begins to soften.
  4. Add the remaining oil with the corn, green onion/scallions, and chilies, saute 2-3 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, and crema, and slowly heat through, about 3- 5 minutes. Season with sea salt.
  6. Serve hot or warm. I like it with a squeeze of lime juice or/and some fresh salsa, and wrapped in fresh corn tortillas. I also found it delightful and fresh tasting the next day, cold... right out of the 'fridge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • thirschfeld
  • Gluten? No. Free? Yes!
    Gluten? No. Free? Yes!
  • aargersi
  • PopTrashFoodie

4 Reviews

thirschfeld July 8, 2010
I am a huge fan of New Mexico/Arizona regional foods and can't wait to test this. I have been planning to make some home made tortillas, I guess now is the time.
PopTrashFoodie July 1, 2010
Your picture brings such life to this dish. Its as if I can smell them . You have my vote and now I have an interesting dish to make this weekend ! Lots of luck to you.
Gluten? N. June 28, 2010
Thank you! It is yum! There are as many calabacita recipes as there are people. I look forward to seeing yours.
aargersi June 28, 2010
Yum! You beat me to the calabacitas punch - I'll enter mine anyhow though as it is a little different, then I will try it your way!!!