This is a traditional dish in New Mexico, which the Pueblo Indians taught to the Spanish. Calabaza means squash or pumpkin in Spanish, and this dish uses any squash that is in season. In the summer, use zucchini and yellow squash, and in the autumn and winter months, use butternut squash or pumpkin. This side can become a main dish by putting it in a casserole and baking it with chicken or beef. This version is vegetarian and cooks on top of the stove in 20 minutes.

6 servings


4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1½ cups yellow squash, sliced
2½ cups zucchini, sliced (or replace the summer squashes with 4 cups winter squash)
2 cups corn kernels (fresh is best, but frozen will do)
2 scallions, sliced
1 cup green chile, chopped
1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cilantro, chopped (you may substitute parsley)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mixed herbs, to taste (oregano, marjoram, and cumin)

[Chef’s Note: This recipe is best with Hatch green chile from New Mexico, which is available fresh in September and October. However, you can find it in cans throughout the year. It’s been roasted with the skins removed for ease of use.]


Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or wok and sauté the onion for about 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 minutes longer.

Add the squash and zucchini and sauté 5 minutes more, until softened.

[Chef’s Note: If you’re using winter squash, be sure to dice it in small cubes, about ½-inch. Sauté a little longer than you would summer squash.]

Add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil with the corn, scallions, and green chile and sauté 3 minutes longer.

Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, and beans and heat through, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and herbs. Serve immediately.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya