Vegan Calabacitas

BY : PUBLISHED : July 12th, 2021 UPDATED: September 29th, 2022

This recipe for Vegan Calabacitas is a Mexican-inspired zucchini dish brimming with vibrant summer veggies like zucchinis, tomatoes, and corn kernels! Sautéed with a trio of aromatic spices, Mexican oregano, cumin, and black pepper, making it delightfully savory and mildly spicy! This amazing salad is budget-friendly and will be ready in just 20 minutes including prep time.  

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calabasitas recipe with a mixture of veggies in a white bowl with blue rim in a white background

Calabacitas is a classic Mexican side dish primarily made of juicy zucchinis tossed with other vegetables and other spices. It is a wholesome dish that is substantial enough to be savored on its own. However, it is also perfect when you need something light, and fresh to pair with your mains. Especially when you are trying to reduce eating rice as part of your diet. Aside from enjoying it as a great side dish, you can also use it to make some vegan tacos or wraps.

Aside from being meatless, this dish is also naturally gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and sugar-free. We just love how each comforting spoonful is filled with crisp veggies and warm spices. A total summer treat that is good for everyone! 

Ingredients Used and Notes

  • Cooking oil - you can use any neutral plant oil you have. Like canola, grapeseed, or sunflower oil.  
  • Yellow onion - you may also try using red onion if you prefer its milder and sweeter taste.
  • Garlic
  • Zucchinis- Pick the small ones! They have softer seeds and skin and taste so much better than big ones. 
  • Roma Tomatoes - alternatively, you can use cherry tomatoes.
  • Corn kernels - I bought a can of this because it's easier. But feel free to use fresh ones. 
  • Salt
  • Spices - Mexican oregano, cumin, and black pepper.
  • Cilantro - you can also try other fresh herbs like parsley and basil. 

calabasitas ingredients including zucchinis, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, pepper, garlic, corn, and spices in a white marble background

Add on Options

  • Poblano pepper or Pepper flakes - Add a pleasant zing of fieriness to the dish. If you like to keep the spiciness at a minimum, add some bell peppers instead. 
  • Lime or Lemon juice -  Squeeze a quarter to give the salad a touch of tanginess and extra freshness.
  • Black or Pinto beans - Extend the dish further by adding some extra protein.
  • Vegan Cheese - Traditional Calabacitas has some cheese melted into it. I don’t usually replace it with vegan cheese, but you’re welcome to give it a try.

How to Make Vegan Calabacitas

This amazing one-pan dish is a breeze to make! It'll only take you 10 minutes to cook it following very simple steps:

1) In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Using a large pan ensures that there is enough space for the veggies to cook evenly without overcrowding. An overcrowded pan will result in the temperature dropping making the vegetables limp and mushy. Saute the onion and pepper until the onion becomes tender and translucent. It should take around 1 to 2 minutes. 

cut up onion and peppers against a white surfaceprocess shot for Calabacitas with cut up cucumber on a white surface

2) Add in the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and corn and saute stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. 

process shot of Calabacitas with various cut up veggies

3) Add the salt, oregano, cumin, and black pepper. Continue cooking for a minute or two.

4) Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve and enjoy! 

Is zucchini good for you?

This summer squash, also called courgette by some, is full of health benefits that make it a superfood! It is packed with antioxidants, plant compounds that help protect your body from harmful free radicals. These antioxidants are mainly found on the skin. It is also full of nutrients, with a very high level of Vitamin A, which helps strengthen our immune system and eyesight. If you want to improve your digestion and heart health, then it should be part of your regular diet.

Do I have to peel the Zucchinis?

No need. Save yourself the effort and hassle in doing so because zucchini skin is 100% edible. As a matter of fact, that is where most of the nutrition is concentrated. It is rich in vitamins and packed with fiber and antioxidants.

Storing leftovers

You can store your leftover Calabacitas in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. Make sure that it cools down completely before placing it in a food container. Reheat the leftovers for a minute or two, or until it has warmed through. You can use a microwave or your stovetop to do so. Make sure to not overly reheat them because they will turn mushy.

calabasitas recipe with a mixture of veggies in a white bowl with blue rim in a white background

What to serve it with?

It will go great with any of your grilled or fried entrees as a side dish. Try pairing it with Grill Tofu Steaks, BBQ Tempeh, Mushroom Vegan Steak, or BBQ Cauliflower Wings. Use it as a filling for my handmade Flour Tortilla or simply wrap them in large lettuce leaves to make delicious wraps. Or you can simply enjoy it with Homemade Pinto Beans and Golden Garlic Rice.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Calabacitas Plant Based on a Budget 5

Vegan Calabacitas

Toni Okamoto
This recipe for Vegan Calabacitas is a Mexican-inspired Zucchini dish brimming with vibrant summer veggies like zucchinis, tomatoes, and corn kernels! Sautéed with a trio of aromatic spices, Mexican oregano, cumin, and black pepper, making it delightfully savory and mildly spicy!
4.95 from 35 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 145 kcal
METHOD Stove
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • ½ of a medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 poblano pepper diced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 small zucchinis sliced and halved
  • 2 roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • ½-1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • Handful of cilantro minced

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Once heated, add in the onion and pepper and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the onion becomes tender and translucent.
  • Add in the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and corn and saute for  about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Stir in the salt, oregano, cumin, and black pepper. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro and enjoy!

Notes

If you’d like some extra protein, add a can of drained and rinsed black or pinto beans. 
Traditional Calabacitas has some cheese melted into it. I don’t usually replace it with vegan cheese, but you’re welcome to give it a try.

Nutrition

Calories: 145kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 4gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1347mgPotassium: 515mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 550IUVitamin C: 48mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

View all posts by Toni Okamoto

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Allison says

    5 stars
    Everyone loved this! Used fresh corn from the farmer’s market instead of canned. Delicious!

    • Andrea White says

      Yummm! Bet it turned out extra delicious!

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