Ever heard of Calabacitas? I hadn’t until a few years ago when DH and I traveled to New Mexico and the mountains of Colorado. Dear friends from England joined us and we took a late September driving trip. We met up in Denver, rented an SUV and headed out. It took us 10 days to do the mountains of Colorado, then we headed south to New Mexico, ending up in Santa Fe. Our last night there we had dinner at the restaurant in the Inn at the Anasazi, and with my entree came this vegetable side. of zucchini, corn and poblano chiles. I was in heaven. I nearly licked the plate. Asked the waiter to tell me all about it, which he did.
So once I reached home I started searching around the internet for recipes for Calabacitas. It’s quite common in Southwest cuisine – it’s just a combination of some typical vegetables of the southwest but the seasoning and chiles from Mexico. Found several recipes, and have made a couple of different versions. But once I found this one from Rick Bayless (from the internet, but it’s from his cookbook Authentic Mexican), I’ve reverted to it more times than not. Most calabacitas versions are served without cream – traditional calabacitas just combine those three vegies -corn, zucchini and poblano chiles (that have been blackened over the gas range or under the broiler). But with the addition of the cream (or fat-free half and half as I’ve used also) it’s just meltingly delicious in the mouth. I really do plan to make this as my full meal one night. It’s that good. Or, I could just add to the dish some chicken broth and make it a great soup. The calories come from the cream, so really, do use the fat-free product instead and it’ll be nearly healthy.
Poblano (aka pasilla) chiles are quite mild – don’t be tempted to use any kind of hot chile in this recipe. If you can’t get poblanos, you could use a hotter chile but in very reduced quantity. Adding poblanos is not about heat, but about the depth of flavor poblanos bring to any dish. Since corn is on the wane these days, I want to enjoy this one more time before the season is completely gone.
Calabacitas con Crema
Source: Rick Bayless, restaurateur, from his book Authentic Mexican
1 lb zucchini — (about four small)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh if possible
1/2 whole onion — thinly sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream (or use fat-free half and half) – optional
1 whole poblano pepper — roasted, seeded, peeled and cut in thin strips
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Chop the zucchini in large chunks (about 3/4 inch to 1 inch) and set aside. Prepare onions ahead and set aside. Grill the poblano chile directly on a gas flame, cool, remove skin, then cut into small strips.
2. Using a very large skillet, heat butter and oil until very hot. Add zucchini and toss until tender. Remove the zucchini from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing it to drain well. In the remaining oil and butter, fry the onion slices until soft and sweet, then add the corn and pepper slices. Add the zucchini and cream and cook until nice and hot. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
Per Serving: 449 Calories; 46g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 58mg Cholesterol; 395mg Sodium.