Mexican Zucchini, Corn, and Peppers (Calabacitas) — An EASY Mexican-inspired recipe ready in 15 minutes with zucchini, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green chiles! HEALTHY, vegan, and naturally gluten-free! When there’s an abundance of summer produce, this recipe is PERFECT!
Mexican Calabacitas Recipe
What is calabacitas? Well, in Spanish, calabacitas means zucchini. But there’s definitely more than just zucchini in this dish.
Although most people would consider this calabacitas recipe a side dish, I consider it practically a meal because it keeps me full for hours from all the veggies.
This super flavorful side dish with so many flavors, textures, and vibrant colors is both vegan and gluten-free. You’d never guess it was ‘missing’ anything because it’s so filling.
Because it’s also a warm side dish, it has a comfort-food vibe to it, although it holds great at room temp or can be served chilled.
I gave half the batch to my neighbor because it makes a very big batch and she said her family devoured it and asked for more.
Just wait until you see the volume of food this recipe makes! It makes an easy 6 hearty servings and it also holds well at room temperature, so it’s perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks.
What’s In Calabacitas?
In my version of Mexican calabacitas, there’s a mixture of:
- Olive Oil
- Red and orange bell peppers
- Fire-roasted green chiles
- Cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Lime Juice
- Cayenne pepper, optional – The cayenne doesn’t make the dish spicy, but rather flavors a very large skillet of vegetables so that they’re not bland. Mexican-inspired food as we know it doesn’t tend to be bland.
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make Calabacitas
This Mexican calabacitas recipe is so very easy to make!
- Simply sauté the onion and bell peppers until they start to soften.
- Then, add the zucchini, corn, and chiles.
- Season with the spices and continue cooking until the veggies are tender as desired.
- Add the tomatoes and lime juice last and cook just until warmed through. That’s it!
What to Serve with Calabacitas
It’s also super versatile and would make a great taco, burrito, or enchilada filling.
Like so many recipes that use similar ingredients to this one, you can easily doctor this recipe up and adapt it suit your needs.
- Use poblano chiles or green bell peppers
- Add garlic
- Add jalapeños
- Add avocado
- Add black or garbanzo beans
- Use regular tomatoes, Roma, or heirloom rather than cherry or grape
- Add cheese at the end such as cotija or shredded pepper Jack
- Garnish with cilantro
Tips for Making This Calabacitas Recipe
This is an easy recipe to mix and match based on what you have hanging around in your fridge. It’s a very forgiving recipe!
This is great for bringing to potlucks because it’s gluten-free and vegan, so it’s suitable for a wide range of dietary needs.
Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 4 months, noting that the texture of the vegetables will be softer upon thawing if you choose to freeze it.
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
- 1 large or extra large yellow onion, diced small
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 2 large zucchini, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups corn (I used previously frozen corn that I thawed first; canned or fresh may be substituted – if using fresh, add it from the beginning)
- one 4-ounce can fire-roasted green chiles (or regular green chiles for a bit less heat)
- 2 teaspoons cumin, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or dried Mexican oregano, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- To a very large skillet, add the oil, onions, bell peppers, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onion and peppers are beginning to soften; stir intermittently.
- Add the zucchini, corn, chiles, evenly sprinkle with the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, optional cayenne, and stir to combine. If necessary, add additional oil if it’s looking at all dry. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are as tender as desired; stir intermittently.
- Add the tomatoes, lime juice, and stir to combine. Taste the dish and if necessary, add more salt, pepper, cayenne, etc. Note – the cayenne doesn’t make the dish spicy, but rather flavors a very large skillet of vegetables so that they’re not bland. Serve immediately. Recipe also holds well and can be served at room temp. Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 4 months, noting that the texture of the vegetables will be softer upon thawing if you choose to freeze it.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 174Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 358mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g
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Originally posted May 20, 2020 and republished June 23, 2023 with updated text.