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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.
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.
- 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.
- Spices – Mexican oregano, cumin, and black pepper.
- Cilantro – you can also try other fresh herbs like parsley and basil.
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.
2) Add in the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and corn and saute stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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!
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