Calabacitas con Maiz or Mexican Zucchini with Corn
Zucchini and corn make a delicous combination. Try it with this super easy Mexican recipe that’s perfect as a side dish or as a light main meal.
Maíz is Spanish for corn or maize, and it’s the most important crop and ingredient in Mexican cuisine. The foundations of Mexican cuisine are held strong by this valuable crop. Without corn there would be no tortillas, and without tortillas there wouldn’t be tostadas, enchiladas, quesadillas, nor tacos. Lest not forget the warming drinks of atole and champurrado. You get the point, Mexican food revolves around corn.
One of my favorite childhood dishes uses corn and it’s what I’m sharing with you today. This is called calabacitas con maíz o elote, in English it translates to simply as zucchini with corn. Another name commonly used for this dish is calabacitas a la mexicana or Mexican style zucchini. Growing up my mom served it as a side dish and I loved it so much that I would eat only it and ignore the main dish.
The sweet smell of onions caramelizing alongside the earthy scent of corn is unforgettable! The moist and mild zucchini absorbs the flavors of the corn and tomato perfectly. The tomatoes provide extra moisture and a little sweetness to the dish, and the serrano pepper adds just a touch of heat to balance out all of the flavours. The spices are minimal and all of the flavors come from the vegetables. It is fresh, healthy, light-yet hearty enough to be served as a vegan meal.
When corn is not in season canned may be used, otherwise if you’d like you can use fresh kernels whenever possible. Zucchini is in season pretty much all year so if you wanted to you could really eat this this all year long. The recipe is vegan but as you’ll see in the video you can top with some crumbled queso fresco if you’d like — you could even drizzle some crema over the zucchini too! Serve as a side dish or you can enjoy it like we recently did and pair it with some black beans and some steamed brown rice.
Calabacitas con Maiz or Mexican Zucchini Recipe
- 1 very large zucchini quartered & sliced*
- 1 can of corn**
- 2 Roma tomatoes roughly chopped
- half small white onion finely chopped
- 1-2 fresh serrano peppers roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- large handful chopped cilantro
- sea salt to taste
- 1.5 Tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
- Heat the oil, once hot add the onion and saute until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Next, add the chiles and cook another minute, add the tomato and allow to cook until softened. Sprinkle in a little bit of sea salt and stir to combine.
- Add the corn kernels and mix until well combined. Mix in the zucchini and cook until the zucchini is soft. Mix in the fresh cilantro, remove from the heat and serve. Enjoy as a side dish or as a main meal when paired with boiled beans and rice or any other pairings of your choice.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…
So simple yet such a delectable recipe. Loved the post 🙂
This is GORGEOUS.
Oh, I love zucchini. This looks awesome!
@Paaka Shaale, Yes so simple indeed. But not when it comes to the flavors, that's what is so great about this dish.
@Erin, Thank you and glad to hear it!
Awww, yay! We're friends on Food Buzz now…love that site, so much!
This dish looks amazing…I love zuchinni so much…I like just having it steamed with onions…and then seasoned with spices. I actually have a recipe for it on my site. Thanks for sharing yours!
@Charissa, Thanks for the add! Oh that sounds good. I'll have to stop by next time I want to make zucchini again.
Love the combination with corn, very interesting because I've never tried it before, thank you for sharing!
Mmm, that looks delicious! I always need news ways to use up the zucchini I get from my garden 😀
Such a perfect dish for summer so pretty too!
delicious combination perfect way to have seasonal vegetables
Such a great summer dish!
just needs some queso fresco and crema San Juan style and perfect just like the one we eate when growin up in mexico!!!
@Claudia, Thank you!
@Anonymous, Yes exactly! It would complete the sensory memories and tummy 🙂
I've eaten this all growing up but we put jack cheese in ours. I love it yum!
Looks good to go with wild rice and lima beans. 😀
I love zucchini fritters, but this salad looks darn tasty!
what a beautiful dish Nancy! Corn is actually in season around here, we are seeing it everywhere in the grocers, I'm not sure what state its coming from but its been sweet and tender! Of course you know my favorite way to serve zucchini is as a blossom!
I love these recipe! So simple and healthy, this could be so nice for an outdoors dinner on a cool summer evening….
I studied archaeology in undergrad and one of the turning points in the prehistory of the Americas was the domestication of maize. Incredibly important stuff! Delicious too, especially in this dish.
This is so gorgeously colourful and aromatic – sounds incredibly tasty!
@Kimberly, Sounds yummy!
@Michelle, Yes I bet it would be.
@Chef Dennis, Oh that is great that corn is already available there. Yes I know you love the yummy blossoms 🙂
@Cooking Rookie, Thank you, and yes perfect for that.
@Carolyn, Makes you wonder what if, if maize hadn't been domesticated. Thanks!
@Maria, Thank you Maria:)
Hi Nancy, my mother made the same dish without the corn, that cracks me up because I think the corn is the best part;-)
Have a nice weekend!
This is the perfect summer lunch (or dinner or snack!).
Gorgeous dish! I can't get enough zucchini right now. It's so refreshing in the summer!
My latest fav: zucchini oatmeal. Like the bread, but acceptable for breakfast. 🙂
Congrats on Top 9 at Foodbuzz – this side dish looks delicious! Easy, simple and healthy!
Lovely dish – I learn so much about Mexican food from your blog Nancy. Delicious!
Looks amazing! I am saving this for when our zucchini is ready!
I love this dish, I have had it in restaurants and find it so delicious. Thank you so much for the recipe 🙂
This looks wonderful…! My mouth can't stop watering…!!
sounds absolutely yummmmmmmy…
first time here..love your space..excellent recipe collection with gorgeous clicks..
Am your happy subscriber now..:)
do stop by mine sometime..
This looks amazingly delicious Nancy, and so colorful and festive! I love this recipe!
My favorite zucchini meal is probably in a bread form with cheese, egg and flour..it is just fantastic combination!
This could be my favorite dish of yours…or at least in the high favs range, no probably a good solid favorite 🙂 Oh OK… so I love them all but I can still have favorites right?!:)I adore everything here and have both fresh zucchini as well as corn in my possession 🙂
I might serve this as a side dish with my vegan tacos. Yum!
found this recipe on Tasteologie and I was SHOCKED at how delicious it truly was..and so SIMPLE! My only alteration was adding sour cream at the end.
Hi Kelly, I’m so glad to hear it:) Yes sometimes the easiest or simplest things are the best tasting.
I’ve actually made this dish before, and I can attest to how really tasty it is. In its simplicity and reliance on the natural tastes of the ingredients, I think it has a lot in common with many Italian vegetable dishes. Maybe that’s why I like it so much… 🙂
Thank you Frank! I’m glad to you hear you’ve made the dish before and that it reminds you of Italian vegetable dishes. 🙂
Great recipe but I always add cheese. Makes it even better!
Cheese with calabacitas is delicious. Thank you Diane!