Sunday, September 30, 2007

Farmer's Market: Calabacita!

On my trip to the Farmer's Market this week, I got lots of yummy stuff, including something called "calabacita," which means "little squash" in Spanish. Well, mine were not so little. From what I could gather, calabacita might mean a different kind of squash in different communities. At my market, asking the various Mexican vendors for "calabacita" resulted in me being handed this:

They look like a fat, medium-sized zucchini, wider at one end, and much lighter in color. The vendor told me they are "wetter" and "sweeter" than zucchini. I paid $1 for my 3 calabacita.

I bought these particular squash for a reason. My friend Polly had told me that her mother taught her to make calabacita tacos. They sounded SO good that I just had to try them! And I have to say, they really are great. One of the benefits of making calabacita tacos is the added nutrition; another is that you can stretch your meat, saving money AND lowering the amount of fat you are eating in your taco! The flavor of this squash goes very well with the taco meat. I highly recommend giving this a try. Polly said there was no written recipe, so gave me guidelines which I followed, but I also did things to reduce the fat along the way. The result is a great comfort food that can be served in taco shells or on tortillas, or used in a taco salad. Thank you very much to Polly and to Polly's mother for this wonderful recipe!

Calabacita Tacos
Start with about a pound of the leanest ground beef you have. Throw it in the pan and brown it. (I always put the browned beef into a colander and rinse it with very hot water to get rid of most of the fat). Put the beef back into the pan. Chop 2 or 3 calabacita into cubes and add them to the meat. You can add a chopped onion and some garlic at this point, or just use some onion and garlic powder. Add a can of low salt diced tomatoes and their juices (I pulsed mine in the blender because my kids have a tomato-chunk aversion). Start that simmering, adding more liquid if needed to keep it from burning. Add your usual taco seasonings (chili powder, cumin or a packet of taco seasoning... watch the salt!). Cover and let it simmer until the calabacita is very tender. Mine took about a half hour. Stir every so often, taste for seasonings and add as needed. Then uncover it and cook it a little longer to evaporate some of the liquid out. When it is thick enough for your liking, you're done! Load it up on taco shells or tortillas, with some raw spinach or romaine, chopped tomatoes, salsa, grated 2% cheddar, and lite sour cream. YUM!!!

Enjoy!! And tomorrow, I will have a little update on ME! Hope to see you then!


Twix said...

Come by my place! I have something for you!

These tacos sound awesome! I think I would give them a try! Love Mexican food, lol. : )

Chubby Chick said...

Mmmm... that sounds... and looks... delicious!

Jo said...

That is exactly the way my Grandmother made calabacitas except she used pork (I use lean pork chops which is not that much more in calories than lean beef). Thanks for posting the picture - I'm drooling now and making that change to my weekly menu :)

Katschi said...

Oh I love food pics and this one looks like a keeper of a recipe. I haven't tried that veggie so I'll go for one this week...I don't think I've ever seen one.
This recipe looks like a healthy comfort food. I'm glad you shared it, especially with the picture.

Anonymous said...

I like calabacitas better than zucchini because they don't have that weird aftertaste that zucchini sometimes have. Try just simmering them in water with a little garlic and/or onion powder and maybe some mushrooms-- AWESOME vegetable. You can also eat them raw!

Anonymous said...

Yowsa, this looks amazing, my mouth is watering. Just printed out the recipe and going to try it tonight. Don't you just love shopping at a Farmer's Market!! I do too. Thanks for the recipe, my mouth is watering. Linda

☆ ★ Clau Díaz ★ ☆ said...

This is NOT mexican food!!
and I know that 'cause I'm mexican, if you want an excelent recipe using "calabacitas" here I leave you the basics…
Cut the calabacitas in small squares and fry them in a pan (using a small amount of veg oil), then mix it with some onion and fresh tomatoes (both also cut in small squares), corn grains (if you can avoid that terrible extra-yellow-and-sweet corn it'd be awesome) you can also add some mushrooms and it'll be really delicious.
Then wait until it's cooked and serve.
This is waaaay better than the so-called tacos you described
Hope you like it!

Lyn said...


The vendor was Mexican. Not the recipe :)

Thanks for sharing your version, it does sound delicious! But don't knock these tacos til you try em, they are fantastic!