Santa Fe calabacitas

My memory fails me when or where it was in Santa Fe, NM, that I had a dish like this for dinner. It may have been the Inn on the Paseo, and it may have been the summer of ’06. I have pretty well recreated the recipe, though, for I jotted down what I could remember of the experience later that night, and cooked up a batch immediately upon returning to my own kitchen. A few tweaks have been applied since then to perfect it. The previous recipe is only slightly different; both are excellent.

Santa Fe style cooking is basically a gourmet approach to preparing the many varieties of Southwestern ingredients—chile peppers, corn, and squash—that find their way into the kitchen. The basic situation from which the dish springs is that the Indians of New Mexico had squash and corn. The Anglo settlers had sausage and eggs. Then, the chefs in Santa Fe, schooled in culinary institutes of America, came along and put them together with flair. Calabacitas literally means “little pumpkins,” so any manner of squash is implied. I prefer butternut squash in this recipe. Although the word “calabacitas” is diminutive in construction and the dish is traditionally served as an entrée accompaniment, the rendition here is a full-flavored one-dish meal, with meat and veggies all rolled into one.

  • 1¼ lb lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1½ tbsp breakfast sausage seasoning mix
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 7 oz can mild diced green chile
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, diced, seeds removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped in ½” dice
  • 1 lb yellow squash, cooked and sliced ¼”
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup egg substitute (X)
  • 1 large lower G. I. tortilla, crumbled
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

Brown the turkey sausage; add onions, garlic, alapeños, bell peppers, and seasoning mix and cook until onions are limp. Peel and boil the squash until it can be sliced. Spray a Pyrex pan with oil and line with squash slices. Add jalapeños and corn kernels, and then cover with the meat mixture. Cover this with the cheese, then the eggs, and top with the crumbled tortilla. Cover and bake in 415°F oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Top with the chopped cilantro before serving.

Serves 8.