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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Calabacitas



A few years back, before we even had kids, Dr. Daddy and I went to Red Fire Farm's tomato festival (which, if you love tomatoes, is like heaven. Seriously.).  While we were there, we stopped to watch a cooking demonstration.  I can't remember what the chef's name was, or what her cookbook was called, but she made a dish called Calabacitas that I had never heard of before.  And of course, it looked so good that we bought all the ingredients and went home to make a batch.  And it was all gone very quickly.

I made this again recently after not making it for a long time, and it was just as amazing as I remember.  And the best part?  Easy, fresh, not many ingredients, and very versatile.  Dairy-free?  No problem.  Vegan? Sure.  Spicy?  Of course.  Gluten-free?  Definitely.  Grain-free?  Okay, not so much.  But at least the only grain in it is fresh corn, which I have a hard time resisting when it's fresh and local.  This is an amazing September dish, because all the ingredients are in season and available locally (at least where we live...).  And PS: I had some lovely photos to share with you, but Dr. Daddy accidentally deleted them from the camera.  So if you want an idea of what this will look like, go here.


Calabacitas (i.e. Little Squashes)

-fat of your choosing (I prefer butter, and plenty of it, but olive oil, coconut oil, or pretty much any other fat you like will work great.)
-1 onion, coarsely chopped
-1-2 cloves garlic, pressed (optional)
-2-3 zucchini or summer squash, chopped
-1 jalapeno or other spicy pepper, minced (optional)
-1 bell pepper (color of your choosing), chopped
-1-2 ears of fresh corn, shucked
-1-2 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
-salt and pepper to taste
-sour cream (optional)

In a large skillet (okay, this makes a very large batch, so a wok may not be a bad idea), warm your fat and add the onion.  I like to add a pinch of salt here to help sweat the onion a bit.  Saute until just starting to become translucent, and add the garlic and zucchini.  Saute this for 3-5 minutes, or until the squash starts to soften and your kitchen smells amazing.  Add the bell pepper and jalapeno, if using, and keep sauteing until all the veggies are tender-crisp and almost cooked through.  While they are cooking, take a sharp knife and slice the kernels off your corn.  Don't throw those cobs away just yet, though.

Once the veggies are nearly done, toss in your corn kernels and milk the cobs.  Yes, I just said that.  Take the back of your knife and scrape it along the corn cobs to get the last bits of that starchy, liquidy goodness that was left behind when you cut the kernels off.  Do it over the pan or you'll lose it all.  Now you can toss those dry, used-up corn cobs.  Stir this all into your veggie mixture and let it get warm for about a minute.  Remove from heat, stir in your tomato chunks, and salt and pepper to taste. 

You can eat this delicious mess as is, but I think it's even better if you top it with a glob of sour cream, and I like to serve it with some lime-glazed chicken breast for protein (although a side of black beans would also not go amiss).  What, I ask, could be better?

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