Easy Calabacitas Con Queso Recipe

This calabacitas con queso recipe is made with tender Mexican squash, tomatoes, onions, and chilies. Then the flavorful mixture is topped with cheese until melted and bubbly.

Close-up of calabacitas con queso in a pan.

About

Calabacitas is a Mexican dish made from sauteed zucchini, tomatoes, onions, corn, and chili peppers.

The name means “little squash” in English and depending on the ingredients added, the dish name takes a variation, so calabacita con puerco means little zucchini with pork meat, con pollo is because is made with chicken, or with queso, because it includes cheese.

Several times the dish doesn’t include any protein, which is normally called a la Mexicana because it is prepared only with onions, tomatoes, and green chiles. Delivering a delicious and healthy recipe to serve as a main or side dish.

Calabacitas con queso being taken with a wooden spoon from the pan.
Look at these cheesy calabacitas! So juicy and tender.

Why You Should Make This recipe

  • Is delicious. This recipe is proof that sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. The combination of those fresh Mexican squash and spices produces a hearty, yet healthy dish that is really delicious!
  • Is authentic. You can say it! This is one of those Mexican authentic dishes that takes too little effort and easy-to-find ingredients.
  • Is budget-friendly. This recipe is made with fresh vegetables, pantry staples, such as olive oil, and spices – all of which are easy to find and budget-friendly.
  • It stores nicely. The dish holds up great in the refrigerator and it freezes wonderfully, making it perfect for Sunday meal prep!
  • Is versatile. Make it vegan, make it dairy-free, add more spicy, or don’t add spicy at all, all options are easily adaptable to the recipe.

About Mexican Squash

  • It is the first plant cultivated in Mesoamerica, the oldest known date is about 10,000 years ago.
  • Their shape is round, similar to a pear.
  • The taste is slightly sweet and herbaceous.
  • The texture is tender, and watery, and can be compared to chayote.
  • Mexican squash is a significant source of vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium, and iron.
  • Can be eaten raw, the smaller and young, the less bitter and sweeter.
  • They are summer produce, so they taste better during that season.
  • You can even plant and grow Mexican squash in pots, just like regular zucchini.
  • In Mexico, this vegetable is widely sold at farmers’ markets, supermarkets, and pretty much everywhere.
  • Outside Mexico, you can find it during summer in some Latin American markets under the name of green Mexican squash.
Mexican squash, aka calabacitas, on a marble surface.

Now that you know more about this authentic Mexican calabacitas recipe, let’s see how to make it…

Ingredients And Substitutions

  • Calabacitas. If you can’t find this Mexican squash variation, use any other summer squash available where you live, such as Italian zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan, crookneck, etc.
  • Melty cheese. I am using Oaxaca cheese, but any melty cheese will work just fine, think of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, monterey jack, etc.
  • Vegetables. Onions and tomatoes, use any type you want. For corn, you can either use fresh kernels or canned.
  • Chilies. Jalapeno or serrano peppers are good options for heat or use any hot chile you have available.
  • Green peppers. This ingredient is optional but it adds texture and more flavor. Use poblano pepper, green bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, or any green no-spicy pepper available to you.
  • Spices. Garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Extras. Olive oil or any vegetable oil, and a bit of vegetable stock.

Easy Calabacitas Recipe

Cut the Mexican squash into medium cubes or half-moons. Peel and clean onions then chop them. Cut tomatoes in half, then dice them and keep them aside.

Last, cut green chiles (Poblanos and jalapeños or other types you’re using) and if you want, remove veins and seeds, then dice them too. Set all your vegetables aside and have them ready to cook.

Chopped and diced vegetables on a cutting board for making calabacitas dish.

In a saute pan or a cast-iron large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, poblano, and jalapeño peppers.

Sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions become transparent and peppers start to soften.

Sautéeing peppers and onions on a pan to make Mexican calabacitas con queso.

Add Mexican squash and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking for 3-4 minutes.

Mexican squash is added to the pan with onions and peppers to make calabacitas.

Add tomatoes, garlic, and corn kernels, then season with cumin, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and allow everything to cook for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.

Mixing all vegetables for calabacitas on the pan.

Pour in vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook stirring from time to time until the vegetables are tender and almost all liquid is gone.

The calabacitas and other vegetables already cooked on the pan.

Adjust seasonings to taste, add half of the cheese, and stir to combine. Then add the remaining cheese on top, cover the pan and turn off the heat.

Cheese on top of vegetables to finish calabacitas con queso.

Allow to rest for a couple of minutes or until cheese melts nicely. Serve as suggested below or allow to cool down and store for later.

Calabacitas con queso in a pan, with a portion served on a plate, some glasses with water and ice, and corn tortillas on the side.

Notes And Recipe Variations

  • Spices. Add some dried epazote or a pinch of Mexican oregano for extra flavor.
  • Sub the cheese. You can also use no-melty cheese, for example, cotija cheese or queso fresco.
  • Make it vegan. Leave out the cheese or replace it with your favorite vegan cheese.
  • Add freshness. If you love the flavor, add some chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish.

How To Serve

Calabacitas con queso is the perfect dish to serve as a main meatless dish with a side of arroz rojo, beans, warm corn tortillas, or homemade flour tortillas.

You can also use the mixture to make tacos, fill gorditas, top on crispy tostadas, or stuff fried quesadillas.

For an authentic Mexican eating experience, we suggest serving any agua fresca you prefer and finishing the meal with a Mexican dessert such as gelatina de mosaico, fresas con crema, or Tres Leches Cake.

Close up of calabacitas con queso.
Flavorful sautéed Mexican squash with tomatoes and peppers.

How To Store And Reheat

If you got some calabacitas con queso leftovers or you want to make a larger batch and store them for busy days, follow those easy steps:

  • Once cooled, place them in one air-tight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • You can also store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Use freeze-proof containers or resealable bags for this purpose.
  • If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • For reheating, place the mixture in a non-stick pan and add a splash of water, then reheat on the stove over medium-high heat mixing from time to time.
Mexican calabacitas con queso recipe.

Calabacitas Con Queso Recipe

author Maricruz
4
This Mexican calabacitas con queso recipe is perfect to serve as a meatless main along with warm tortillas, rice, and salsa. As a side for your favorite protein, or also used to make tacos, quesadillas, and tostadas!
prep 10 minutes
cook 20 minutes
total 30 minutes

Equipment

  • knife and cutting board
  • skillet or cooking pan

Ingredients 

  • 1.1 lb Calabacitas or zucchini (cut into cubes or half-moons)
  • 1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese (or any other melty cheese)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 -7oz can corn kernels (drained)
  • 1 poblano pepper or green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock (or water)
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil on a pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Add poblano, jalapeño peppers, and onions. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions become transparent and peppers start to soften.
  • Add calabacitas squash and cook, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic, and corn. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix well and allow everything to cook for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Add vegetable stock (or water), mix well and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook stirring from time to time until all vegetables are tender.
  • Adjust with salt and pepper, add ⅔ of cheese and mix well.
  • Add the remaining cheese on top, cover the pan, and turn off the heat.
  • Allow resting for a couple of minutes or until cheese melts on top.
  • Serve as suggested in the recipe notes below.

Notes

  • Spices. Add some dried epazote or a pinch of Mexican oregano for extra flavor.
  • Sub the cheese. You can also use no-melty cheese, for example, cotija cheese or queso fresco.
  • Make it vegan. Leave out the cheese or replace it with your favorite vegan cheese.
  • Add freshness. If you love the flavor, add some chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish.

Serving suggestions

Nutrition Information
Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 639mg | Potassium: 703mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1086IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2mg
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FAQ

Can you freeze calabacitas con queso?

Yes! they can be frozen raw or cooked. So, you can make this recipe in a large batch and freeze it for up to 3 months.

What does calabacita squash taste like?

These vegetables have a delicate and mild-sweet taste with a herbaceous touch.

Is Mexican squash same as zucchini?

No. Zucchini is a summer squash native to Italy, it has a darker color and the taste, shape, and texture are a bit different. Mexican squash is sweeter, rounded, and more tender.

Are calabacitas healthy?

Yes, as they are rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium, folate, and fiber. It is one of the healthiest dishes in Mexico that has been consumed for centuries.

Can I make this recipe with zucchini instead?

Yes of course! Mexican squash is difficult to find outside Mexico, so zucchini is a good replacement. Use any local zucchini or squash you have available and enjoy this delicious dish any day you want.

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! The calabacitas zucchini were so flavorful and indeed they are super easy to make! I used the mixture to make tacos with all toppings and my kiddos devoured them! I was so happy they ate the entire batch and even asked for seconds! Thank you so much, those are now my favorite zucchini recipe ever!

  2. 5 stars
    Such a hearty and nutritious meal! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this recipe. Was a great side to Taco Tuesday last week and we’re making it again tonight.

  3. 5 stars
    I loved how well the poblano pepper and the zucchinis played out on this recipe! i am making this again for my Thanksgiving brunch!

  4. 5 stars
    We are Mexican food lovers in this house. This will be a nice addition to our themed dinner nights. I know it will be a delicious hit.

  5. 5 stars
    We love Southwestern cuisine and this recipe is delicious! It will be a regular side dish for us during these cold weather months. Thanks for sharing it!