This is the time of year that zucchini starts showing up on your doorstep. Your friends and family have a garden, their squash and zucchini plants are prolific and these well meaning folks are running out of workmates and neighbors to give it to, so they drive around town leaving it at doorsteps when no one is looking. I use to dread it, but now I love to use them to make calabacitas, a southwestern dish that is often served here in New Mexican restaurants as a option to the usual rice and beans with your entree. So if you are sick of making zucchini bread, try this recipe for a great side dish in the summer.
Technically, calabacita is Spanish for squash, but here in New Mexico we use the word generally to mean this dish made from squash. Calabacitas recipes are like green chili stew recipes out here in New Mexico – everybody has one and it is the best. I’m not going to say mine is the best – but it is tried and true and is sure to please. Here is my basic calabacitas recipe, but be sure to experiment on your own. All spices are subject to taste and that is where the experimenting starts. You may also add tomatoes, but I don’t because they don’t agree with me. Whatever you do, don’t leave out these basic ingredients, or you will have to call it something other than calabacitas.
Adobe Nido Calabacitas – serves four as a side dish
1 yellow squash 8-9″ or so
1 zucchini 8-9″ or so
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup sweet yellow onion chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese ( I always use queso fresco if I can – after all , this is a classic Mexican Dish. If you have a Mexican market in town – get the queso fresco Mexican cheese – otherwise use any other mild white cheese, like mozzarella.)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic (I keep dried granulated garlic around so I use about 1/2 tsp of that.)
1/4 cup prepared roasted/chopped green chili
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350º
Prepare squash and zucchini by quartering lengthwise and then chopping into 1/4 to 3/8″ chunks. Set aside.
Saute chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil until onions are just threatening to brown, and then add squash and zucchini and cook until they are about half done. Add corn and as soon as it is thawed move to a 1 quart casserole dish and mix in cheese and green chili.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
We served this up as a side dish to Roasted Cuban Pork with black beans and rice and it was a perfect compliment.
Many people will leave out the green chili, but I just can’t do that. I have found a fantastic local product, Sandia Chile Grill Authentic Green Chili that will soon be available online from their website. Get it when you can! There are many fine chili-in-a-jar products out there now and so far this is the best I have tasted. It is very close to fresh roasted and I actually prefer it now to the frozen kinds that have been a staple in New Mexico for years. Of course – freshly roasted is best so if you want to roast and peel your own – go for it! Whatever you do – don’t use canned green chili. Yuck! Sacrilege!
If you can – plan a trip to the Fiery Foods and BBQ Show, held in Albuquerque every year at the end of February or first part of March – depending on how the calendar falls. This coming show will be held March 4-6, 2011. Besides being the Mecca for all chiliheads everywhere – there are many other gourmet foods to taste as well, and every purveyor of prepared green chili will be their with their product for you to be the judge! Mark your calendar and plan a stay with us at our Albuquerque Bed and Breatfast, Adobe Nido.
I know the best things to eat in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!