(Updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, August 2014.) Calabacitas is a traditional recipe from the American southwest, and it's a quick and easy way to use up abundant summer squash if you have them in your garden. Traditional recipes for Calabacitas sometimes include things like corn or tomatoes, but in my version I concentrate on the flavors of the squash, onions, cheese, and green chiles. This is definitely a recipe that should be made to individual taste, and when I first made this I thought a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles was plenty spicy, but now I'd probably use a bigger can. Key to the flavor here is slightly browning the onions and squash as they cook; as long as you manage that you can't go wrong with this easy recipe.
This can certainly be a vegetable side dish, but when I have a lot of summer squash (thanks to my sister Val who brought me some when we had a family reunion) I will happily eat a big plate of this for a Meatless Monday lunch or dinner. (To see more Meatless Monday recipes, you can click the label Meatless Monday or check out Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index or my Meatless Monday Pinterest board, which has good ideas from lots of bloggers. I also share a weekly Meatless Monday idea for Meatless Monday at BlogHer.com.)
I used a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles, but next time I'd use a larger 7 oz. can. (Don't make a mistake and buy jalapenos instead of these Anaheim Chiles, unless you really want it to be spicy!)
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and then cook the onions until they're barely starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
Then add the can of green chiles, stir to distribute, and cook until the squash is barely starting to soften, about 6-8 minutes more.
When the squash is barely tender, season well with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
Add the cup (or more) of grated cheese, stir gently and cook about 2 minutes to melt all the cheese.
This won't win any beauty contests when its done, but it's truly delicious.
And here's the original photo of this recipe from 2006, and looking back I'd say I should have browned the squash more in those days!
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from many sources.)
1 onion, peeled and cut into slivers
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, about 8-10 inches long (or use two of each like I did)
1 T olive oil, (more or less depending on your pan)
1 can diced green Anaheim chiles (Use a 4 oz. or 7 oz. can, depending on how hot you want it. Don't use jalapenos unless you like really spicy food.)
1 cup plus 1/4 cup grated low fat Mexican cheese blend (or more)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
sliced green onions for garnish (optional)
Peel the onion, cut in half lengthwise, and cut into thin slivers. Wash squash and cut lengthwise into fourths, then into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2-3 minutes, until starting to slightly brown. Add squash and saute about 4 minutes, or until squash is just starting to get tender. Turn a few times but not too often (you want the pieces of squash to brown a little.)
Add canned green chiles with juice to the pan and cook 6-8 minutes more, until squash is cooked through, but still slightly chewy. (This is a personal preference, but I prefer mine a little on the crisp side. Cook a little longer if you prefer a softer texture. More mature squash will take a bit longer to cook.) Season well with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
Sprinkle the cheese over and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring until cheese is melted and squash is partly coated with cheese. Serve immediately with a bit more cheese sprinkled over each serving.
South Beach/Low-Carb Suggestions:
Zucchini and yellow squash are both great low-carb ingredients, and with low-fat Mexican blend cheese, this is a great dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet or any other type of low-carb eating plan.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight using The Glycemic Index partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Delicious Meatless Dishes with Summer Squash:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Al's Hungarian Summer Squash with Sour Cream, Paprika, and Dill ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Zucchini with Thyme ~ Simply Recipes
Roasted Zucchini with Green Onions, Feta Cheese, and Basil ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Summer Veggie Stuffed Zucchini ~ Mountain Mama Cooks
Julienned Zucchini Mexican Bowl with Black Beans, Avocado, Tomato, Poblano, and Lime ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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