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Calabacitas recipe: Southwestern zucchini dish

Calabacitas is a popular dish made from sautéed zucchini and squash, corn, onions, tomatoes and cheese.

DENVER — Calabacitas is a dish that is truly a Southwestern favorite.  

Made with squash, onion, corn, tomatoes and cheese, you'll find this sautéed dish to be healthy, comforting and satisfying.

Calabacitas recipe


  • 2 summer squash (you can cube them or slice them in half moon shape but not too thick but not thin because they’ll get mushy)
  • 2 zucchini squash (same advice for chopping)
  • 2 patty pan squash (when available)
  • 1 bundle of fresh cilantro (I usually mix it with onions when I sauté them and not only for flavor but for color)
  • 1 whole onion (I use white onion but it really is your preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of salt (taste once it’s all together and make the determination if you need to add more)
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper (same as salt, either add more or less to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin (now it’s not the spice for everyone but a hint in combination with cilantro and oregano is fabulous!)
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed oregano
  • ½ cube butter, not margarine or use a tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4-6 cobs of corn (you want to shuck off the cob; if not in season, use frozen corn)
  • 3 tomatoes (cubed)
  • ½ cup evaporated milk (can add more if you like)
  • 1 cup cheese (more or less dependent on your taste)


  1. When the white scalloped patty pan squash are in season, I dice up all 3 and set them aside.
  2. Chop your cilantro and onions small.
  3. Melt your butter in a pan that will hold everything, and sauté your onions, cilantro, a tablespoon of minced garlic for a couple of minutes and then add fresh corn and sauté together for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and let the flavors blend for 5 minutes.
  5. Then add the squash (for a smaller batch just cut back on ingredients), spices and let cook but stir every 5 minutes for 12 minutes. You don’t want your squash to get mushy and you want a little firmness to it.
  6. Add evaporated milk, stir and then add cheese.
  7. Let it simmer for a few minutes and taste.  Squash should be firm and not mushy.

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