Calabacitas Con Queso (cheesy Mexican squash)

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 cheese until melted and bubbly.

Mexican squash with tomatoes, onions and peppers cooked on a pan and topped with cheese.

What are calabacitas?

The name is literally a translation of “little squash”, but is also more than this. In Mexico it also refers to a dish made by sautéing the squash with various ingredients.

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

Taking the dish from the pan with a spoon.

Several times the dish doesn’t include any protein on it, but it still makes a delicious and healthy recipe to serve as a side or main dish.

Related article: What’s meatless Monday?

Can I make it with zucchini instead?

Yes of course! Mexican squash is difficult to find outside Mexico or south California, so zucchini are a good replacement. So use any local zucchini or squash you have available and enjoy this delicious dish.

Can I make it ahead?

Absolutely! and it will taste even better, believe me. Calabacitas are a nice 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?

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

Is Calabacita squash the same as zucchini?

No. Calabacita is the name for Mexican squash, while zucchini are the Italian version of summer squash. The look is different, one has a light green color, and the other (zucchini) is darker. Also the taste, shape and texture is a bit different, Mexican squash are sweeter, rounded, and more tender. Either are delicious and perfect to make this dish anyway.

Mexican squash (calabacitas) on a pan, seen from above.

The step by step recipe

Cut the squash into medium cubes or half-moons. Chop onions, tomatoes and green peppers (Poblanos and jalapeños or other types you’re using).

Chopped and diced vegetables on a cutting board.

In a medium sauté pan or a cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, poblano and jalapeño. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions are transparent and peppers starts to soft.

Sautéeing peppers and onions on a pan.

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

Mexican squash added to the pan with onions and peppers.

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

Mixing all vegetables on the pan.

Pour in vegetable stock, mix well and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook stirring from time to time until calabacitas are tender and almost all liquid is gone.

The vegetables already cooked on the pan.

Adjust with salt and pepper, add half of cheese and mix to combine. Then add the remaining cheese on top, cover the pan and turn off the heat.

Cheese on top of vegetables.

Allow to rest for a couple of minutes or until cheese melts nicely. Serve with corn or flour tortillas and your favorite Mexican side dishes.

How To Serve

This dish is perfect to serve as a main meatless dish alongside with arroz rojo, or arroz blanco and corn tortillas / flour tortillas.

To complete the Mexican menu, we suggest serving any agua fresca you prefer and finish 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

If you got some leftovers or you want to make a larger batch and store. Place them in one an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

You can also store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Use freeze-proof containers or zip bags for this purpose.

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 (chopped)
  • 1 – 7 oz can corn (drained)
  • 1 poblano pepper or green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 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 and corn. Season with cumin, garlic, 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.
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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