Spiralized Calabacitas with Salsa Negra Glazed Chicken is a flavorful, Mexican-inspired dinner that makes the most of your zucchini harvest! It can easily be made vegetarian by using grilled tofu.
My friend Kirsten, whose delicious Farm Fresh Feasts is super seasonal, can blog about things a year after making them (to make sure the reader gets the recipe at the right time). I am in awe of this ability, considering how long it has taken and how hard I have found it to write about this dish, which I made a few months ago. I just keep staring at the picture, thinking it looks delicious but not knowing what to say about it. The funny thing is, just by virtue of confessing that to you here, on “paper,” I feel myself remembering other things to say. I guess the lesson is, when in doubt, plow ahead!
This dish is, to me, the perfect example of how fantastically creative you can get with a spiralizer without using it as a pasta substitute. Calabacitas is a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish of zucchini, often including spices, other veggies and cheese or cream. The spiralizer gives the zucchini and even onion great texture, and keeps the focus on the zucchini, where it should be. As you can see, it looks in some ways like a pasta dish, but because it is not and never has been a pasta dish, there is no sense of the “zoodles” being an un-satisfying substitute.
My family loved this dish. For the adults, I added glazed grilled chicken with Salsa Negra, but for the kids, I grilled them plain because of the heat factor. The adults drizzled extra Salsa Negra on the dish–that stuff is amazing, if hot! I can eat this dish any time of year I love it so much, but it is especially satisfying in late summer and early fall, when the weather is cooling off but the zucchini is still plentiful.
- 2 T butter
- 1 T avocado oil, or any neutral vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, spiralized or thinly sliced (use one of the noodle settings)
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 smaller green zucchini, spiralized on a noodle setting
- 1 smaller yellow squash, spiralized on a noodle setting
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t ground ancho
- 2 medium medium tomatoes, chopped and placed in drainer over bowl to capture and reserve juices separately
- 1 T cider vinegar
- 2 T cream cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 T sour cream (preferably full fat)
- 1-3 t Salsa Negra, heat tolerance depending
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack, plus more for garnish
- chopped cilantro
- more shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Salsa Negra
Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or pan with deep sides over medium high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and stir in, cooking for another 2 minutes.
Add the bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash with a pinch of salt. Stir.
Add the cumin and ancho powder. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.
Add the drained juice only from the tomatoes, as well as the cider vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil.
Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Let the vegetables steam cook this way for 5 minutes (I used the thickest noodle setting on my spiralizer--if your noodles are thinner or if you like crisper zucchini, steam for shorter time or skip step completely).
Remove the lid and raise the heat until the liquid comes to a brisk simmer. Let the liquid evaporate a bit for 5 minutes, stirring if needed.
The zucchini should be tender at this point--if not (and if you want them more tender), cook a while longer.
When the zucchini is cooked, add the cream cheese, whipping cream, Salsa Negra and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Stir constantly to melt the cheeses, and as soon as that occurs, stir in the chopped tomatoes and remove the pan from the heat. Taste for additional salt.
Serve, topped with protein if desired (see headnote), and garnished with chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and more Salsa Negra if desired.