New Mexico, Chiles and Calabacita

Ajax Tavern Chef Matt O’Neill recently journeyed to Santa Fe New Mexico to participate in the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. The event includes cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, guest chef meals and grand tastings… all focused around the mighty chile.

If there’s one thing New Mexican kitchens are famous for, it’s chile peppers, so Chef Matt wanted to highlight them in his dishes he prepared at the event as a guest chef.

Chef Matt immediately headed to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market to shop for the freshest ingredients he could find — looking for inspiration and ideas based on what was available. The market had a variety of chiles to choose from, along with some delicious squash and tomatoes.

With these ingredients in hand, Chef Matt decided to create a Calabacita recipe, which is a traditional New Mexican dish that is a bit like a succotash. Here’s the recipe Matt used, which can easily be made at home with late-summer veggies… and the best part? It only takes 20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups diced summer squash
2 1/2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups corn kernels, fresh

6 scallions, chopped (3/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped hot green chile, roasted, with skin removed (wear gloves when handling chiles)
1/2 cup chopped mild green chile, roasted, with skin removed
1 cup diced ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes
1/2 cup firmly packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup cream or grated Jack cheese (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat 2 tablespoonos of the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for about 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes longer.

2. Add the squash and zucchini and saute 5 minutes longer, until softened.

3. Add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil with the corn, scallions, and chiles and saute 3 minutes longer.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro and cream (if desired) and heat through, about 5 minutes.

5. Season with salt. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 8-10 servings.

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