Here’s an easy way to make Calabacitas con Elote (Zucchini with Corn) – a zesty and satisfying side dish to have in your summer menu. The buttery creaminess of the suero (whey) catapults me to my childhood every time. The joy of growing up Mexican!
Calabacitas con Elote
Zucchini season is in town, and that means that it’s everywhere, it’s cheap and it’s plentiful. It also means that it is the perfect reason to enjoy this Calabacitas con Elote (Zucchini with Corn) recipe.
What Is Calabacitas?
Calabacitas is a traditional Mexican side dish that is everyone’s favorite in summer and whenever you can get that healthy zucchini or squash on the table. Traditional recipes include corn, tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, and even pork or chicken if you are making a meat version.
Prefer leaving the meat out? This Zucchini with Corn dish is so impressive that you can serve it both as a side dish or main – it will delight you either way.
Calabacitas con elote can be made with or without cheese. This recipe includes it as an optional topping.
In addition, I love using suero (whey) in calabacitas for its buttery creaminess that catapults me to my childhood every time. But if you don’t have it or prefer using something else, you can substitute it with buttermilk.
What Is Whey?
Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is the byproduct of cheese making.
In fact, whey is the watery cheese liquid you’ve seen in freshly opened containers of yogurt.
If you don’t have whey or sour milk, don’t worry, you can use store bought or homemade buttermilk, but you will need to add some salt.
How to Make Buttermilk?
Here is a very quick way to make buttermilk – it only takes less than 10 minutes. All you need is plain milk with lemon juice or vinegar.
Zucchini with Corn
My garden is overrun with zucchini.
Squash is bountiful in summer and fall and so we had calabacitas con elote quite often while I was growing up. The joy of growing up Mexican!
This Zucchini with Corn is one of those recipes that I find myself longing for whenever I see all the squash varieties available.
But what do you do if you don’t have all the ingredients?
White Cheese Options
Some of the most popular white cheese options are:
- Asadero – developed in parts of northern and central Mexico, asadero is perfect melting cheese.
- Oaxaca – semi-hard cheese from Mexico, similar to unaged Monterey jack, but with a mozzarella-like string cheese texture.
- Chihuahua – semi-soft cheese that originates in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
- Monterey Jack – semi-hard American cheese with a sweet note.
- Cheddar – the hardest cheese from the above, originating in England.
Make This Dish Dairy-Free
- Salsa Verde is one of them. It is very simple to make – all you need are tomatillos, garlic, onion, jalapeño, serrano, and cilantro. It is fresh, tangy, and slightly spicy – just perfect for this Zucchini with Corn recipe.
- Salsa Casera is a fantastic fire roasted green chile salsa and a great dairy-free option in place of suero.
Storing and Reheating
You can store your calabacitas in a fridge for 5 days. Just make sure to use an airtight container for it.
When ready to eat, reheat the leftovers on a stove, in a pot, or in a microwave. Whichever you prefer, make sure to stir the dish halfway through to ensure it warms up evenly. Enjoy!
Love Calabacitas con Elote? Try These, Too:
- Cilantro Lime Rice + Video
- Slow Cooker Borracho Beans
- One-Pot Southwestern Rice
- Shrimp Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
- Mini Chorizo and Cheese Quiches
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment below and tag @muybuenocooking on social media!
Calabacitas con Elote (Zucchini with Corn)
- 4 ears of corn, shucked and cut from the cob
- 4 zucchini or squash, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups suero, whey or buttermilk can be used as a substitute
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- cheese, grated (Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or cheddar)
- Remove corn kernels from the cobs using a knife on an angle. Set kernels aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion in the hot oil, about 2 minutes then add the tomatoes for 2 more minutes.
- Add the garlic for an additional minute until fragrant.
- Mix the zucchini and corn into the onion and garlic and cover until zucchini is tender; about 10 minutes.
- Uncover and stir the suero/buttermilk into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper; stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer.
- Sprinkle with cheese (optional) to serve.
- Instead of fresh corn use frozen corn but don’t use canned.
- Instead of suero, replace with buttermilk.
- For a dairy free option use salsa verde or salsa casera and do not add cheese.
- White cheese options - asadero, Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, cheddar
- Nutrition facts do not include cheese.
Originally published: September 2010. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.