Calabacitas Recipe - Sautéed Vegetables

In case you've never heard of our Calabacitas recipe, you're in for a treat. This dish is healthy, gluten free, and totaly delicious.

Calabacitas means zucchini in Spanish. It consists of zucchini, (crookneck, sunburst, mixed with diced onion, roasted green chilies, fresh minced garlic, fresh corn, cotija chesse and garnished with cilantro.

calabacitas recipe  with zucchini

The Secret

In order to get the best flavor in this dish, there is one step you must do even though it takes 20 minutes.

You want to know what it is?

It's definitely worth every minute.

Sauté the diced onion for a full 20 minutes in olive oil.

What this does is caramelizes the onion bringing out it's rich sweetness. This step makes all the difference in the world.

Most recipes on the internet will tell you to cook the onions 3 to 4 minutes. Don't do it. If you are tempted, I say, try it both ways and then you will understand what I'm saying.

Also, my recipe is not spicy at all, which suits me just fine. But feel free to fire it up all you want by adding jalapeño or poblano or any chili you like. Roast them first for maximum flavor.

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Calabacitas Recipe


  • 2 lbs. summer squash (zucchini, sunburst, cookneck, etc.)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. canned green chilies, drained and diced
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano leaves
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 cup of cotija or queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions for Calabacitas Recipe:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 20 minutes stirring frequently.

Remember this is where you will develope that sweet savory flavor so don't stop short. In fact if you went over 5 minutes it would be even better!

I find that about half way through I need to lower the heat some. Don't let it burn. Just look for a nice golden brown color and stir frequently.

Next add the garlic and stir for one minute. What an aroma! You know at this point these are going to be some delicious Mexican vegetables!

Now add the corn, green chiles, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir until everything is nicely combined and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the zucchini to the mix and stir to combine.

Add the lemon juice and cook the zucchini about 10 minutes until it is almost tender. You want there to be a slight crunch to it and not mushy.

Remove from the heat and crumble the cheese over the vegetables and stir. Place the calabacitas in a serving dish and garnish with the fresh cilantro.

Rockin Robin

Return from Calabacitas Recipe to More Mexican Recipes 

Click here for more vegetable recipes.

Click here to watch my Calabacitas video.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


Made your apple pie recipe yesterday. Absolutely the best!! And no gap! Your spice mixture was just right.

I have the apple/corer/peeler and it made perfect slices in no time. Thank you so much for your wonderful step by step instructions and for the video. Much appreciated. Lucky me! :)

-B.A. from 

Hi! I just wanted to say that your tortilla recipe/video is pretty much the greatest thing ever! I'm a college student, so it's a really great/cheap thing to make. They're especially good with butter, honey, and brown sugar.

I just have to make sure my family doesn't find out I stopped using the family tortilla recipe! Ha! Thanks again!

-C.M. from 
Queens, New York

I just have to write to you and admit something! I'm preparing your spanish rice recipe at the moment AND....I want to thank you!

I had actually given up on making Spanish rice! No one, or no recipe, until YOURS, ever said to actually BROWN the rice so much.! I think thats the taste difference!

Thank YOU so much.  I followed your recipe exactly,..and it is absolutely wonderful!

-Martha MacDonald from 
Karlovac Croatia

Just to let you know that I found your website and love it. We have very limited Mexican produce in Australia and I am enjoying making your recipes.

I have made your enchilada sauce a few times now.  We all love it and have managed to find pinto beans at our central markets. Good Job. Well done.

-Wendy Sachse from 
Adelaide Australia

Rockin' Robin, you truly rock! I live in china right now, far, far away from my beloved Mexican food. Finding ingredients is hard enough, learning how to make everything from scratch no longer is with your recipes.

Though I've only tried your tortilla recipe, I will certainly be coming back to your site to make retried beans and Spanish rice!

My tortillas were awesome, best yet, thanks for giving us a night of Mexican food all the way over here in China!

-Erin from Santa Barbara, California

THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I stumbled upon your website today as I searched the web for flour tortilla recipes. I made these just after viewing your video, and five of us devoured them.

SO DELICIOUS. And easy to make! I am most grateful to you for this simple, tasty recipe. Your video was a useful tutorial.

I've not attempted to make tortillas prior to making yours, though we often eat tortillas. We're vegetarians, so I was looking for a recipe which used canola oil instead of lard. You delivered. Merci.

-Frances Bolte

WOW! What a great website. Love how you show what to do and how it is supposed to look. Definitely in my favorites folder.

-Terri M from Florida Keys
Where good Mexican food is hard to find.

Just made your enchilada sauce recipe and that's what I've been looking for. I like the fact it has a little heat but not too much so my kids will eat it. Thank you for posting the recipe. i am turning leftover turkey into turkey enchiladas tonight but the star is really the sauce. Thanks again.

-Tony Starks, California