Marifer’s Calabacita or Mexican Squash for Delicioso Vegetarian

Calabacita or Mexican Squash

This calabacita or Mexican squash sautéd with red bell peppers, tomatoes and corn is one of the dishes Marifer Rodriguez, a Texas college student majoring in industrial design, most looked forward to during childhood visits to her grandmother in Mexico. “It always tasted so good,” she remembers.

Mexican squash looks a lot like the zucchini we are used to seeing in U.S. grocery stores, but is typically lighter in color, plumper and milder in flavor. The pale-green vegetable is also a tad sweeter, making it an extra delicioso filling for tortillas and tostadas.

Mexican calabacita or squash
Mexican calabacita looks a lot like U.S. zucchini, but is lighter green and tastes a tad sweeter.

Now that Marifer has started cooking for herself at college, she tracked down the family recipe and loves to make this calabacita for herself and her roommates. She tells Familia Kitchen that she has discovered that taking the extra time and effort to fix her favorite Mexican traditional dishes makes eating the final product all the more satisfying.

Marifer also loves the way biting into this dish reminds her of being with her family, which helps whenever she gets a little bit homesick. Marifer has made this recipe a star of her weekly cooking rotation, and says she especially enjoys eating it on a chilly day. Although it takes a little longer to make than some of her other go-tos (like quesadillas), she likes that she can make it in big batches and have dinner ready for the next few days.

Calabacita Marifer
Marifer sautés diced calabacita or Mexican squash with onions, red bell peppers, tomatoes and corn. It is one of her favorite vegetarian meals.

Calabacitas are ideal for people following a plant-based diet, especially when accompanied by other healthy sides to make a full meal, says Marifer, who is a vegetarian. Her grandmother, Blanca González (whom she calls Tita), traditionally served her calabacitas with refried beans, rice and tortillas, which she loves, but Marifer has lately been enjoying it on tostadas. She likes to add a layer of refried beans and top the tostada with sliced avocado to make the dish extra filling — and ready to take with her as she walks out the door, on her way to class.

calabacita marifer
Marifer likes to serve her grandmother’s calabacita recipe on tostadas, with refried beans and avocado.

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Ready to Make Marifer’s Calabacita Family Recipe?

Marifer’s Calabacita or Mexican Squash for Delicioso Vegetarian

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Marifer Rodriguez Cuisine: Mexican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 Tbsp 1 olive oil

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 red bell pepper, diced

  • 5 cups 5 calabacita (Mexican squash), diced

  • 1/2 1/2 tomato, diced

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 corn kernels

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt, or to taste

  • 1/8 tsp 1/8 ground black pepper, or to taste


  • Place a large saucepan on the stovetop, set to medium-high. Add the olive oil.
  • Add the diced onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the red bell pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Stir in the diced calabacita. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Continue to stir as it cooks for 12 to 15 minutes. When the squash is fully cooked and feels tender, it is done.
  • Stir in the corn and turn off the heat. The warmth of the saucepan will be enough for the corn to cook.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed. Serve on tostadas, with your favorite garnishes. Marifer likes to add refried beans and avocado slices.


  • Marifer recommends this dish for vegetarians (like herself) looking for a plant-based main dish to serve alongside rice and beans.

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