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.

What is calabacitas con queso?

The name is literally a translation of “little squash”, in this case, of Mexican summer squash. But is also more than this. In Mexico, it also refers to a dish made by sautéing this tasty vegetable with various ingredients.

Depending on the ingredients added, the dish name takes a variation, so calabacitas con puerco means little zucchini with pork meat, con pollo is because is made with chicken and calabacitas con queso means it includes cheese on it.

Several times the dish doesn’t include any protein on it, and this is when is normally called a la Mexicana because 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.

I love this recipe because is so versatile! One of my favorite ways of using it is to stuff fried quesadillas.

About Summer Mexican Squash

  • Their shape is round, like a pear.
  • The taste is sweeter and herbaceous.
  • The texture is tender 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 on a marble surface.

How To Make Calabacitas Con Queso

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.

In a sauté 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 are transparent and peppers start to soften.

Sautéeing peppers and onions on a pan to make calabacitas.

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 constantly stirring to flavor the dish.

Mixing all vegetables for calabacitas on the pan.

Pour in vegetable stock, stir the mixture 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 with salt and pepper, 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 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.

Useful notes

  • Add some dried epazote or a pinch of Mexican oregano for extra flavor.
  • You can use other types of cheese, for example, cotija cheese or queso fresco.
  • If you love the flavor, add some chopped cilantro for garnish.

How To Serve

Calabacitas con queso is perfect to serve as a main meatless dish alongside arroz rojo, beans, and warm corn tortillas or homemade flour tortillas. You can also use the mixture to make tacos, fill gorditas, or top crispy tostadas.

To complete the Mexican menu, we suggest serving any agua fresca you prefer and finishing with a Mexican dessert such as gelatina de mosaico (Mexican jello), fresas con crema (strawberries and cream), or Tres Leches Cake.

Close up of the squash dish.

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. 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 zip bags for this purpose. Thaw overnight 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 heat mixing from time to time.

FAQ’s

Can I make it 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.

Can I make it ahead?

Absolutely! and it will taste even better, believe me. This recipe is the perfect meal to plan and make 2 or 3 days ahead.

Can be made vegan?

If you want a vegan version, don’t add the cheese or use a vegan substitute. Even without, this dish is utterly delicious and perfect to make tacos or to serve with Mexican white rice on the side.

Can I 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 zucchini same as Mexican squash?

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. Nevertheless, both are delicious and perfect to make this dish anyway.

Mexican calabacitas squash.

Calabacitas Recipe

This calabacitas recipe (calabacitas con queso) is perfect to serve for your meatless Mondays. Mexican squash are sautéed with tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn, and seasoned with spices, then topped with melty cheese.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 20 minutes
TOTAL 30 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1.1 lb Calabacitas or zucchini (cut into cubes or half-moons)
  • 1 cup Oaxaca cheese (or any other melty cheese)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 – 7 oz can corn (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 are transparent and and peppers starts to soft.
  • Add calabacitas 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 calabacitas are tender.
  • Adjust with salt and pepper, add ⅔ of cheese and mix. Add the remaining cheese on top, cover the pan and set the heat to the lowest.
  • Let it gently simmer for a couple of minutes or until cheese melt and starts to bubbly.
  • Serve with corn or flour tortillas.

NOTES

  • Add some dried epazote or a pinch of Mexican oregano for extra flavor.
  • You can use other types of cheese, for example, cotija cheese or queso fresco.
  • If you love the flavor, add some chopped cilantro for garnish.
Nutrition
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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