New Mexico calabacitas make the perfect side dish for any holiday meal. Traditionally, the dish is served without ground beef, but a little extra protein adds more flavor and will help satisfy those with endless pits inside their bellies.
Calabcitas are a great dish year-round, especially when fresh garden-grown zucchini or squash is available, but it also adds a little zing to a Christmas ham, Thanksgiving turkey or any holiday meal. Many New Mexicans will already have most of the ingredients needed in their kitchen. If not, be sure to grab these items on your next trip to the supermarket:
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 cubed zucchini and/or squash
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 can drained corn
- 4-6 ounces fresh chopped green chile
- ½-1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Making calabacitas is simple and should only take 15-20 minutes to cook when including the ground beef. The vegetables will caramelize in about the same amount of time it takes to brown the meat. Green chile is also optional for calabacitas but should be added when making it New Mexico style.
Before turning on the stove, do all the prep work first, including cubing the zucchini or squash and peeling and chopping the green chile.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet on medium heat.
- Add onions and sauté.
- Brown ground beef in a separate pan while onions are sauteing (optional).
- Mix zucchini/squash with onions and continue to sauté.
- When the zucchini gets soft, add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook about 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are caramelized.
- Stir in green chile until it is hot and then add corn.
- Add caramelized vegetables to drained ground beef and stir occasionally until the flavors are mixed well.
- Turn off heat and place calabacitas in a serving dish.
- Add more seasonings and cheese if desired.