New Mexico calabacitas

Calabacitas is a traditional vegetable dish of the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest that was taught to the Spanish conquistadores when they arrived, adopted by their progeny, and passed on now to the population at large. Calabaza means squash or pumpkin in Spanish, and the dish uses any squash that is in season. In the summer, zucchini, summer, and yellow squash are common, and in the autumn and winter months, butternut squash and pumpkin are used. It originally was made with only squash, corn, and green chiles. In many New Mexican homes now, however, calabacitas is made as a one-dish casserole that adds chicken or beef. There are perhaps as many recipes for it as there are chefs. Some use vegetables only; some add meat; some add garlic (but mostly not). Some even add black beans. Another very similar recipe also appears elsewhere here.

The recipe below combines its ingredients in a wonderful, delicious, healthy, and low-fat entrée. Any squash can be used, even spaghetti squash, but not it is definitely not traditional. The recipe is best when made with green chile from Hatch, New Mexico, which can be found frozen in some supermarkets. It can also be found in cans throughout the year.

  • 1 lb sausage
  • 4 rashers bacon, minced
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups thinly sliced squash, butternut preferred
  • 1 cup fresh kernel corn
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chopped green chile
  • 1 cup red bell pepper chopped.
  • 2 eggs, beaten, plus ½ cup egg substitute (X)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (use ground up lower G. I. tortillas)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • <salt> and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9 × 9” baking pan with cooking spray. Sauté bacon, sausage, and onions together. Drain well and set aside. Sauté squash; drain and mix together with corn and chile. Layer vegetable and sausage ingredients into baking dish. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top. Pour eggs over casserole and top with bread crumbs and seasoning. Bake 20 to 30 minutes covered until eggs have set and the mixture below is bubbly; then remove cover and bake until browned on top.

Note: If you use spaghetti squash, cook it separately until it can be taken from its shell. Cool the ingredients enough to mix them all together, except for the bread crumbs. Then put them in the baking dish, spread bread crumbs on top, and bake as above.

New Mexico calabacitas con carne

A more traditional and simpler recipe by Adela Amador in the New Mexico Magazine of 2000 appears below. Any squash can be used, as noted in the preceding recipe,

  • 1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
  • 2 tsp <butter>
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lb squash, diced
  • 1 smallish onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped green chile
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated

Brown the beef in the <butter> at medium-high heat. Add the onion and continue cooking until onion slightly browns. Remove the onions and reserve. Cover and simmer the beef at low heat until tender (add more water, if necessary). Add remaining ingredients, except cheese, and cook on medium heat until squash is tender. Sprinkle with cheese when serving.