Recipe: Calabacitas -- a medley of sauteed squash

by Julie Snyder

calabacitasCalabaza means squash or pumpkin in Spanish. Calabacitas is a traditional dish in New Mexico, which the Pueblo Indians taught to the Spanish. This south-of-the-border variation uses any squash that is in season.

In the summer, calabacitas is a great way to use up all those zucchini and squash that come around from gardening friends.

In the autumn and winter months, you can use butternut squash or pumpkin.

Enjoy this traditional Southwestern dish of sautéed summer or winter squash, onions and peppers as a side or use it as a vegetarian filling for tacos.

For the health-conscious, it's an excellent source of powerful antioxidants said to help prevent damage to DNA and cellular structures.

Calabacitas -- a medley of sautéed squash

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes | Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 red onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
• 1 1/2 cups chayote squash, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1 cup yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 2 1/2 cups zucchini, sliced, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
• 2 scallions, sliced
• 1 cup green chile, chopped
• 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
• 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Mixed herbs, to taste such as oregano, marjoram, and cumin

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or wok. Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion for 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 minutes longer. Add the squash and zucchini and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more.

Add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil with the corn, scallions, and green chile and cook 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, and beans and heat through, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and herbs. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note

If you're using winter squash, be sure to dice it in small cubes, about 1/2-inch. Sauté a little longer than you would summer squash.

What's your favorite recipe to use up the prolific summer and winter squash?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com