Calabacitas Recipe (Con Queso)
What Is Calabacitas?
When I think of Calabacitas, I think of an array of different things. Hispanic flavors, harvest time, vegetables, and vibrant colors.
The Spanish word “Calabacitas” is translated to little squash in English.
However, when referring to the traditional Mexican dish, Calabacitas means sauteed squash, mixed with other vegetables and spices.
The Calabacitas Recipe we’re sharing today is a quick and healthy dish to enjoy year-round… Not just in the summer or during the fall harvest.
Little Squash History
Calabacitas was cultivated nearly 10,000 years ago by the Native Americans near Oaxaca, Mexico.
The “little squash” that we know and use today (like yellow squash and zucchini) are not the same as the squash the Native Americans farmed and first used in this type of dish.
Squash plants in the past were fibrous and bitter. Over the years the plant was transformed into a delicious vegetable that many people nowadays enjoy in a plethora of different dishes.
What’s In A Mexican Calabacitas Recipe?
Calabacitas Con Queso (little squash with cheese) is also often called Calabacitas Con Elote (little squash with corn) at some Mexican establishments.
It’s a quick-cooked vegetable dish filled with bright yellow squash, zucchini, sweet bell peppers, bold poblano peppers, corn, distinct spices, and topped with cilantro. All of the colors mixed into Calabacitas pair well with the colorful Hispanic culture.
This dish, packed full of sauteed squash, is a great option for family dinner. Your kids will love piling up the cheese on top of their colorful vegetable plate!
Healthy Calabacitas Con Elote Recipe: The Healthiest Dish in Mexico
Calabacitas are rich in vitamins, particularly potassium, magnesium, vitamins A and C, folate, and fiber.
The vitamins within the vegetables in Calabacitas are known to lower blood pressure and help prevent cancer and heart disease.
It is one of the healthiest dishes in Mexico that is still eaten today!
Sizzling Calabacitas Con Queso Ingredients
Calabacitas is the perfect option for dinner parties, cookouts, and even meal prepping! Here’s what you will need to make it…
- Butter – or oil will work
- Sweet Onion – peeled and chopped
- Garlic – minced
- Corn on the Cob – corn cut off the cob
- Zucchini – cut into cubes
- Yellow Squash – cut into cubes
- Poblano Pepper – seeded and chopped
- Red and Orange Bell Pepper – seeded and chopped well
- Cilantro – freshly chopped
- Lime – juiced
- Ground Cumin
- Dried Oregano
- Optional Toppings: Pico de Gallo, Lime wedges, Queso fresco, Avocado
How to Make Calabacitas Con Queso
- Sauté the Onions. Set an extra-large cast iron cast over medium-high heat. Add the butter onion, garlic, and poblano pepper. Cook to soften.
- Season. Add the ground cumin and oregano to the skillet. Stir and push the onions to the sides of the skillet.
- Sauté the Squash in Batches. Add about a third of the chopped squash and bell peppers. Brown for 1 minute. Repeat two more times until all the squash and peppers are incorporated.
- Get Corny. Stir in corn, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir to warm the corn, then turn off the heat. The veggies should be just barely cooked and still firm.
- Add Toppings! Serve Calabacitas warm with a generous sprinkling of crumbled queso fresco, a dollop of pico de gallo, avocado slices, and extra lime wedges.
Get the Full (Printable) Recipe for Calabacitas Recipe (Con Queso) Below. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are My Vegetables Soft And Soggy?
Be sure to not overcook your vegetables! It’s better for the vegetables to be slightly undercooked and firm than overcooked and soggy. Work fast and don’t let them sit over the heat too long.
How Long Does This Recipe Last?
Calabacitas will last about 3-4 days in the fridge. It is a great dish to pair with protein!
Can I Substitute Other Vegetables For Zucchini?
Of course! You can substitute zucchini for any young squash variety. You can also use different types of chiles/peppers.
Can I Make This Keto?
Yes, you can! Just simply skip the corn.
Can This Dish Be Vegan?
Yes, it’s simple! Substitute olive oil for the butter, and omit the cheese.
Can I Make This Dish Paleo Or Whole 30?
Yes, use oil instead of butter. Skip the cheese garnish. Then take out the corn.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes
- Mexican Street Corn Chicken Chili Recipe
- Red Posole with Pork Recipe
- Steak Fajitas Stuffed Avocado Recipe
- Chicken Enchiladas Suizas Recipe
- Skinny Chicken Fajita Soup Recipe
- Easy Spanish Rice Recipe (4 Ingredients)
- The Best Refried Beans Recipe
- Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe)
- Retro Taco Pizza (Layered Taco Dip Recipe)
Calabacitas Recipe (Con Queso)
- 4 tablespoons butter, or oil
- 1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 corn cobs, corn cut off the cob
- 1-2 zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1-2 yellow squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup Pico de Gallo
- 1 whole Lime, cut into wedges
- 1 cup Queso fresco
- 1 whole Avocado, sliced
- Set an extra-large cast iron cast over medium-high heat. Add the butter, onion, garlic, and poblano pepper. Saute and soften for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the ground cumin and oregano to the skillet. Stir and push the onions to the sides of the skillet.
- Add about a third of the chopped squash and bell peppers. Brown for 1 minute. Then push them to the sides of the pan and add another third of the veggies. Cook for 1 more minute. Then push the veggies to the sides and add the remaining squash and peppers. (This method allows each batch of squash and peppers to get a bit of color.)
- Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Brown another minute, then stir in the corn, cilantro, and juice of ½ a lime.
- Stir to warm the corn, then turn off the heat. The veggies should be just barely cooked and still firm.
- Serve warm with a generous sprinkling of crumbled queso fresco, a dollop of pico de gallo, avocado slices, and extra lime wedges.