Calabacita means “zucchini”, or courgette, or baby marrow, or little squash depending on where you are from. The calabacita was originally native to Mexico some 7,000 years ago. After the Spaniards introduced them to Europe in the 1500s, it was co-opted by the Italians and French.
Zucchini was first cultivated in the temperate climate along the Mediterranean coast sometime in the 19th century. It spread from southern France and Italy to northern Africa, the Middle East and even Asia. Even though Mexico sits on the southern border of the United States, zucchini was was barely known in America until the Italian immigrants of the early 1900s brought it with them. This unassuming little fruit/vegetable is harvested young so it retains its flavor and the seeds are soft. The early harvest also provides cooks with the flowers that are eaten fried and in sauces.
Calabacitas al Mojo de Ajo – Zucchini with Garlic Sauce
- Large skillet
- Small bowl
- Wire mesh strainer
- 6 small Zucchinis, ends trimmed & cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1½ tbsp Butter
- 1½ tbsp Olive oil
- 6 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced thin
- ½ medium Lime
- Salt & pepper
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- ¼ cup Flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Prepare Zucchini – Place zucchini cubes in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with salt, lightly toss, and let sit for 30 minutes. When done, rinse Zucchini thoroughly and dry well with paper towels.
- Fry Vegetables – About 10 minutes before zucchini's done "sweating", heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic slices and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will turn bitter and ruin the dish. Remove pan from heat and pour into a fine-mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Set garlic aside and pour drained butter-oil in the bowl back into pan and turn heat to medium-high. Add zucchini and cook, stirring, until browned and tender but still a little crunchy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
- Finish Dish – Squeeze lime juice over zucchini in the pan, add toasted garlic slices and toss. Add salt and pepper, oregano, and parsley. Mix and add more salt if necessary. Pour into a warm bowl and serve.