Calabacitas, a tasty Mexican squash and corn dish, is the perfect complement to tacos, burritos, and other Mexican entrees. My brother-in-law, Mark Zalmanek, developed this recipe after eating it in a Mexican restaurant many years ago.  Thank you, Mark, for another delicious recipe.

The trickiest part of preparing calabacitas is cutting the corn off the cob without making a big mess. If you stand the corn tall on a cutting board and slice off kernels with a sharp knife — like I did for years — I can guarantee you’ll have at least a dozen kernels on the floor by the time you are done.

On, Kelli Foster describes 3 Mess-Free Ways to Cut Corn off the Cob.  All three are clever, but two involve messing up extra dishes, which I try to avoid in my small RV kitchen with limited countertop space and no dishwasher. Here’s Kelli’s directions for the method that works best for me: “Lay an ear of shucked corn flat on a cutting board, and cut down the side of the cob to remove the kernels. Then rotate the cob so the flat (cut) end is on the bottom against the board. Continue cutting and rotating the corn until all the kernels are removed.” Thanks, Kelli!

Cut corn off the cob
The kernels don’t fall far from the cob if you lay the ear flat to cut it.

Active time: 20 minutes                 Total time: 40 minutes

One-Butt Kitchen Needs

  • You’ll need a 10-inch Non-Stick Frypan with a lid to cook the calabacitas.

Serves: 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus another splash if needed)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 red bell pepper (or 2 red sweet mini peppers), diced
  • 2 yellow squash or zucchini (or 1 each), diced
  • 1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed (or a 8.75-oz can of corn, drained)
  • 4-oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 Campari tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


Cut the kernels from the ear of corn as explained above (or use a small can of corn if you prefer).

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté onion for about 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté 2 more minutes.

Stir in the bell pepper, squash and/or zucchini.  Add another splash (1 or 2 tbsp) olive oil if needed. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add corn and green chilies and sauté 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, oregano and salt. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Remove the lid and cook for a few minutes to let any excess moisture evaporate.

Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

calabacitas in pan
The calabacitas are ready to serve when the cheese is melted.


  1. I texted this to Grace, and if she leaves out the corn, she can make it Keto-licious! Jim and I will include the corn. Another good recipe, Mary!

  2. Being a lazy cook, I made this with canned corn and canned tomatoes. I’m sure it would have been better if everything was fresh (there’s nothing like fresh corn), but it was still yummy!

  3. Being a lazy cook, I made this with canned corn and canned tomatoes. I’m sure it would have been better with all fresh ingredients (there’s nothing like fresh corn), but it was still yummy!


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