Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Calabacitas #Recipe and #Giveaway by Leslie Karst

If you’re like me, you’re drowning in zucchini right about now—either from your own plants, or from all that squash your neighbors have foisted upon you. So I thought for today, I’d provide one of my very favorite recipes for “little squashes,” i.e., calabacitas in Spanish, cooked up in a delectable stew with pork, corn, and aromatic spices. 

This recipe was taught to me by a friend who learned it from his mother-in-law, who hailed from Mexico. And if you happen to be awash in fresh corn right now, all the better!

And be sure to check out the end of this post for a GIVEAWAY of the newly-released AUDIOBOOK of the first in my Sally Solari mystery series, Dying for a Taste!

Calabacitas—Zucchini and Pork Stew with Corn

(serves 6-8)


3 pounds pork shoulder
4 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ large onions (about 4 cups, chopped)
4 medium zucchini (about 8 cups, chopped)
1 can corn

grated cheddar cheese for garnish
chopped cilantro for garnish
flour tortillas
Aren't these round zucchini from my garden adorable!


(I ended up using only one can of corn)


Cut the pork into 1” cubes, removing the large pieces of fat (it’s fine to keep some of the fat marbling the meat, as that’s what gives pork shoulder it’s sublime flavor).

Toss the pork with 2 t cumin, 1 t each of garlic and black pepper, and ½ t each of chili powder and salt.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat, and once shimmering, add half the pork. Cook until browned on bottom, then turn and brown the other side.

Remove pork with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and cook the rest of the pork in the same fashion. Once it’s nicely browned, add the first batch of pork back to the pot and add 3 cups of water (or enough to just cover the pork).

Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.

While the pork is cooking, prep the vegetables. Chop the zucchini into ½ to 1” cubes. 

Chop the onion into 1-2” pieces (see photo below).  Grate cheese and chop cilantro for the garnish. 

After an hour, check the pork, and if it’s becoming too dry, add a little more water. Once the pork is tender (after another half hour or so), add the onions. 

Re-cover the pot, and continue cooking for fifteen minutes. 

Add the zucchini and 1 t each, cumin and granulated garlic, and ½ t salt (or salt to taste). Then add the water from the can of corn (but not the corn itself).

Cook for fifteen more minutes, or until the zucchini is tender. Add the corn, and keep cooking only long enough to heat it through.

Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese and chopped cilantro, accompanied by heated flour tortillas.

¡Que sabroso

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.


Leslie’s website 
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case  
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Check out Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, MURDER FROM SCRATCH:

“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.

And now for the GIVEAWAY! I’m thrilled to announce that the AUDIOBOOK of the first in my Sally Solari mystery series, Dying for a Taste, has just been released. Simply comment below with the name of your favorite zucchini or squash dish—along with your email address so I can contact you—to be entered to win! (The winner will receive a code for a free download of the audiobook from Audible.) The contest runs through Thursday, Aug. 13, and I’ll announce the winner on Friday, Aug. 14. 


  1. Thank you for the recipe, Leslie. I love those little round zucchini, I mean, calabacitas. I think they have a nuttier flavor than elongated squashes.

  2. I love zucchini bread.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

  3. Looks very tasty.
    The zucchini doesn't get mushy with that amount of cooking?
    I love zucchini (and the round ones are adorable), but I dislike how easily they turn to yucky mush.

    1. The zucchini only cooks for 15 minutes, so no, it doesn't get mushy.

  4. Zucchini bread or frittata are always favorites. And especially now always looking for new recipes and this is going to be one of them. Thanks for the giveaway. I am still using a Sally Solari potholder and tote bag I got long ago!

  5. Oh, this looks good! I need to try this one! I have never seen round zucchini before! Thanks so much for the chance!
    jstomalis1053 (at) comcast (dot) net

  6. I like zucchini and yellow squash either fried or grilled. Recipe looks amazing. Ive never seen round zucchini before, so cute.

  7. THIS LOOKS DELICIOUS! thanks for the chance to win! amandasmother(at)aol(dot)com

  8. I like making zucchini & grilled cheese sandwiches.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

    1. Ooo...that sounds delish, Jana! What a good idea!

  9. That recipe sounds and looks good. I like zucchini stir fried with garlic.

  10. My favorite squash dish is the way my mother cooked summer squash. You cut up small yellow squash, and onion and boil them in water. Drain off the water and top the squash and onions with butter. It's delicious!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  11. I love zucchini bread. I am going to try the recipe. It looks delicious!
    Jlsxstitch (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I like zucchini grilled. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

  13. We LOVE zukes and eat them several times a week in season, in everything. It's great raw as a crudite with dill dip or garlicky hummus, also good in pasta, orzo or any salad. I like it stuffed,grilled,cooked on stove with onions and butter,baked in casseroles with cheese, and also add some when I make Fideo Con Puerco.(broken small pieces of spaghetti in a tomatoey pork soup/stew)Thanks for reminding me of the Calabacitas with corn, as I have all ingredients to make it soon. Right now as I type I'm cooking 2 different kinds of pork loin, one in the IP, one seasoned differently in the slow cooker, as it was 9.25 lbs. on sale for 97 cents a lb. I have some pork shoulder in the freezer I can use for your recipe. lola777_22 at hotmail dot com

    1. I'm thinking maybe you need to write a zucchini cookbook, Lynn!

  14. The recipe for Calabacitas sounds yummy. The photos almost made me drool meaning this is a recipe I need to make - and soon. Yep squash are plentiful at present, but I'm not complaining. Going to enjoy them while we can and new recipes help me do that. We love zucchini fritters and squash dressing a lot and naturally the nut breads made with zucchini.

    Thank you for the chance to win an audiobook of "Dying for a Taste!".
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  15. I love squash soup. Low carb and low cal. Cook yellow squash and onion in chicken broth. Transfer to blender add a little cumin and a couple big T if sour cream. Blend and eat.

    1. Yum--that sounds delicious, Sue! Love the addition of cumin.

  16. Zucchini au is amazing and low carb!
    Thanks for the chance 🙂

  17. I love fried squash or zucchini. JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com