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14 August, 2015

Calabacitas

Posted in : Lunch & Dinner on by : JW Plato

One of the easiest vegetables to grow in a hot, windy, dry environment with loamy soil (Ah’em, New Mexico) is squash. Zucchini, yellow squash and crook-necked all grow hardily and are abundant, especially this time of year, but let’s face it, there are only so many things to do with them. When I moved from Utah to New Mexico, I discovered Calabacitas. It’s not only fun to say, but delicious to eat and is low in carbs for our diabetic friends (Ah’em, Miss Kate). This recipe can feed the masses, or you can make it smaller. Plus it comes with the only clean joke I know which involves squash and a good natured poke at the Mormons; it goes something like this.

An important dignitary flies into Anywhere, Utah where the Prophet of the LDS church meets him. Excited to show off his beautiful city, the Mormon leader takes his guest out to a fine dinner. As they leave the car the Prophet says causally,

“No need to lock the car doors, it’s very safe here.”

Over the next few days they visit several government buildings and historical landmarks, the Prophet always saying the same thing,

“No need to lock the car doors, it’s very safe here.”

On Sunday the dignitary agrees to attend services with the Prophet. Once parked the Prophet comments a little hesitantly,

“Um, be sure to lock the car doors while we are here.”

With a questioning look the dignitary asks for an explanation,

“We didn’t lock the car at the restaurant, the capital or at any of the state attractions we visited. I just don’t understand, you said it was very safe but not here at your church?”

“Oh, it’s not about safety.” The Prophet assures him, “It’s just this time of year if you don’t lock your car doors when you come out after church the entire back seat will be filled with squash.”

You laughed if you’ve ever grown squash or met a Mormon (they are very generous with their produce.) This recipe will use up about every squash you have in garden. No garden? Hit up your local farmer’s market (or LDS Church-kidding, kind of).

Calabacitas (or Squash Casserole – which is not as fun to say)

  • 2 crook-necked squash, sliced
  • 2 yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cups corn
  • Oil for frying (about a tablespoon, remember, we’re keeping count of the carbs.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Chili to taste (I prefer chopped green chile but you could also use red chili powder.)
  • ½ cup pinon nut meats (“pine nuts” for you gringos like me) 5 blue corn tortillas (remember this serves 8, so for counting carbs, a person isn’t really eating a whole tortilla)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, (or cream of potato if you’re leaning towards a vegetarian fare)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (does 2 cups sound less than a pound? Either way, cheese)

Saute squash and corn in the oil on high until browned. Add garlic and onion, stir in chile. Cook for a few minutes, don’t let the onions brown. In an 8×10 baking pan, layer the tortillas, vegetables and nuts; pour the soup over the entire thing. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees. (Serves 8, or 4 if it’s the main course and not a side dish.)