Vegetarian Stove-Top Calabacitas

Vegetarian Stove-Top Calabacitas

Calabacitas is a traditional Pueblo Indian squash and chili pepper casserole that's become very popular in its many spicy American Southwest variations. Often baked and usually made with chicken or beef, this colorful vegetarian version uses pinto beans to add heartiness and protein, and cooks on top of the stove in just 20 minutes. While it makes a wonderful vegetable side dish for any Southwest or Mexican style dinner, I like to serve it up as a quick and filling breakfast wake-me-upper, although the beans should be cooked the night before if you're going to do this to speed up the morning preparation.

This calabacitas can be found by many to be quite hot, so if you're serving guests with a gentle palette, you can halve the jalapeños or omit the chile powder. Serve with warm corn tortillas and sour cream.

Vegetarian Stove-Top CalabacitasVegetarian Stove-Top Calabacitas
Recipe by
Cuisine: American Southwest
Published on December 3, 2007

A vegetarian stove-top version of a traditional Pueblo Indian baked squash and chili pepper casserole — colorful, hearty and spicy, this can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

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  • 1/2 cup dried pinto beans (1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 14 oz can)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped jalapeños
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 medium zucchinis, diced
  • 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 cup fresh grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Rinse the beans and soak the beans overnight covered in several inches of cold water. Drain and rinse, then add to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender but not falling apart.

  • Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium heat for a couple of minutes. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil, wait a few seconds, then swirl around the pan.

  • Add the onion, jalapeños, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano and salt. Fry, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the onions are very soft.

  • Add the beans, zucchini, corn, and garlic and continue to cook, stirring gently to avoid breaking the beans, for about 5 more minutes until the zucchini is just tender (avoid overcooking).

  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts. Add black pepper to taste.

  • Serve with warm corn tortillas and sour cream with lime wedges or jalapeño slices as garnish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings