This Calabacitas Pot Pie is a whole new take on some of my favorite summer flavors and is sure to stay in our recipe rotation going forward. I packed it with summery ingredients, including zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, hot peppers and corn.
Even though it is completely vegetarian, it was as hearty and filling as more traditional pot pies. But the best part? It was SO EASY thanks to store bought puff pastry, one of my all-time favorite items to keep in the pantry. Who would've thought that a French pastry staple could play so nicely with one of my favorite Mexican side dishes?
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So what the heck is calabacitas, anyway?
While calabacita literally means "zucchini" or "little squash" in Spanish, it also refers to a side dish popular in Mexican cuisine that features zucchini and corn. From what I can tell, the term is interchangeable with colache, but if someone out there knows better, tell me in the comments! I always love learning more about food. Anyway, as a lover of all vegetables and all Mexican cuisine that I've tried, calabacitas has been a favorite of mine for years.
There are a great many variations out there, some with tomatoes, some with bell peppers, some with cheese, and even some with meat. But to be entirely honest, there hasn't been a single iteration that I've tried that I haven't absolutely loved. Zucchini and corn are a match made in heaven. So when I was looking at the heaps of produce I got from the Farmer's Market last Wednesday and trying to come up with a plan, it suddenly hit me. I should make my own calabacitas!
Okay, so why did you turn it into a pot pie?
From my experience, calabacitas is generally served as a side dish. But with all of the beautiful produce I had acquired (you do remember I'm an addict, right?), I needed vegetables to play first string. I started thinking about other things that I love to eat. For whatever reason (maybe I'm willing it to be fall already), pot pie sprang to mind. I know, I know. It's a gazillion degrees outside, and pot pie is a heavy dish best suited to colder weather. Well, traditional pot pie might be a fall and winter dish. This version is arguably a year-round pleaser.
I started out with all of the vegetables and sautéed them into the fragrant, rainbow colored hash known as calabacitas. In traditional pot pie, there's some kind of binder like gravy to hold it all together. My thoughts went to queso dip, which is essentially a kind of mornay. (See? The French/Mexican connection totally makes sense!) I stirred that right into the veggies. And since I'm crazy in love with puff pastry and its million layers of buttery flaky deliciousness, that became my topping. Mad science? Maybe. But it worked even better than I could've hoped.
Tips for the Best Results
Tip #1: Sautée your veggies separately to get rid of most of the liquid. This recipe calls for a heap of vegetables - zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, onions, hot peppers - all of which have a lot of water stored in them. I don't have a pan with a wide enough brim to account for all of that vegetable goodness without overlap, and by the time I started cooking I was halfway to hangry and wanted to cut out steps. Don't be me. Work in batches, don't crowd your vegetables, and be patient. You'll get way more layers in your puff pastry topping if you do.
Tip #2: Remember to cook your flour. To make the queso-style mornay I made to bind this together, you first melt butter in a pan and add flour to make a kind of paste. Be sure to cook it for a few minutes before adding in the cream and wine, or you'll end up with a flour-y tasting sauce. GROSS! As soon as the flour starts to smell nutty, you can move on.
Tip #3: Add air vents. Even though you already did a great job of getting rid of a lot of the liquid from the calabacitas, the layer underneath your crust is still going to steam. If you don't leave a place for it to escape, your puff pastry topping will suffer. Make a few cuts in a star pattern before you toss her into the oven.
Ingredients and Possible Swaps
You're going to need a whole lot of veggies to fill your cast iron up with enough goodies to call it a pot pie. Here's what I used:
- 1 large yellow onion (you could easily sub out a red or white onion, too)
- 2 large red bell peppers (use other colors if you like!)
- 2 mesilla peppers (sub jalapeños for similar heat, or poblanos for less!)
- 2 medium sized zucchini (this is a must if you want to call it calabacitas)
- 2 medium sized summer squash (I wanted extra color, but these could easily be more zucchini)
- 6 ears corn (you can use frozen, no problem!)
- 8 cloves garlic
- Spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper (in a pinch, use your taco seasoning or chili seasoning instead!)
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoon flour
- 2 C cream (you could sub half and half or milk instead)
- 1 C white wine (beer would be good here too)
- 1 can diced green chilis
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and rolled out to fit your baking dish
Some other calabacitas recipes out there call for tomatoes, which sounds pretty yummy to me. I would recommend that if you go this route, you do not use fresh tomatoes and opt for a canned version of fire-roasted and diced tomatoes that you have drained instead. Rotel could also be a great option for a little more heat, but again, REMEMBER TO DRAIN THE CAN before adding so your puff pastry can rise appropriately.
What are you waiting for?
You have all the knowledge you need to go ahead and make this awesome Calabacitas Pot Pie. Go on and get after it! The summer season is beginning to fade into fall, and there's no better way to send summer off in style. Until next time, friends, have a happy, healthy and yummy day!
If you're looking for more vegetarian meal ideas, check out these other recipes:
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Vegetarian Calabacitas Pot Pie
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil divided
- 1 large Yellow Onion medium diced
- 2 large Red Bell Peppers medium diced
- 2 Mesilla Peppers medium diced
- 2 medium Zucchini cut into ½ inch half moon slices
- 2 medium Summer Squash cut into ½ inch half moon slices
- 6 ears Corn removed from husk
- 8 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 ½ tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Queso Style Mornay
- 4 tablespoon Butter
- 4 tablespoon Flour
- 2 C Cream
- 1 C White Wine
- 4 oz Grated Cheese of choice, recommend cheddar, pepper jack or Monterey jack
- 1 can Diced Green Peppers
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 sheet Puff Pastry rolled to fit pan
- 1 Egg
- 1 tablespoon Water
- Heat about a third of your oil in pan until shimmering. Working in batches, sautée your vegetables.1.) Bell peppers, mesillas, onion with kosher salt to ensure sweating. Sautée until liquid is mostly gone and vegetables are softened. Remove from pan.2.) Heat about a third of your oil in pan until shimmering. Sautée zucchini and summer squash with kosher salt to ensure sweating. Sautée until liquid is mostly gone and vegetables are softened. Remove from pan.3.) Heat about a third of your oil in pan until shimmering. Sautée corn with kosher salt until lightly golden and beginning to soften. Combine all vegetables and add garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Make queso style mornay. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes slightly golden and smells nutty. While continuing to whisk, slowly add in cream and wine. Stir until completely smooth and combined.Fold in cheese, stirring until smooth. Stir in green chilis last.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Assemble pot pie. Add queso to vegetables, stirring to combine. Lay puff pastry over the top, being sure to cut air vents.Make an egg wash by beating together egg and water. Brush egg wash over pastry.
- Bake at 350F for about 30-40 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with toppings of choice like avocado, cholula, cilantro, sour cream, etc. ENJOY!