Last month, when I was in Santa Fe, I had my first experience with calabacitas, the delicious Southwestern vegetable dish. And then I had it again. And again. You’d think Mexican food would be pretty customizable to accommodate a vegan diet, but that’s a bit deceiving. Though you can ask them to hold the cheese, most dishes contain meat. So while I was searching for something quick one day I stopped at a food cart in the square downtown and the vendor explained calabacitas to me.
The word itself means “zucchini” in Spanish, and that’s the base for the dish. But from there lots of things are added to make each recipe unique. Southwest staples like chiles, beans and almost always corn are just some of the items chefs mix in.
I tried to stay true to that for my version of calabacitas. The zucchini base is there, and there’s squash, black beans, corn and cilantro, along with a few other small things to spice it up.
After eating more than enough calabacitas during my week in Santa Fe, I found myself longing for it again from the East Coast, and this is what I came up with. It’s a really quick and healthy meal that will fill you and your family up. So give it a try and get a taste of the great Southwest on your dinner table.
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 large zucchini, sliced and cut into quarters
- 1 large summer squash, sliced and cut into quarters
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- Juice from 2 limes
- Heat oil over medium heat, then add remaining ingredients.
- Sauté until everything is thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes.
- Fill tortillas with 3 hearty teaspoons of mix.