hearty calabaza stew

A One Pot Meal: Hearty Calabaza Stew

This might be Lilu’s favorite meal of all.  Whenever we tell her to come eat dinner, at least 80 percent of the time she will ask “is it calabaza?!”  Calabaza is Spanish for “squash” or “pumpkin;” this recipe features a type of Mexican squash similar to zucchini.  (You actually can substitute zucchini and/or yellow squash depending on what is available at your grocer.)

Here’s the how-to in less than five seconds:

making calabaza stew

Now here’s the full recipe.  The beauty of this meal is that it can be made in one pot– no piles of dishes to worry about after dinner!  Mateo likes to cook enough for ten people, so he does the noodles separately (they won’t fit in the calabaza pot), but I will make a note of when to add the noodles for those of you who will be preparing a more normal-sized portion.

You will need:


  • 1-2lbs ground chuck
  • 1 green and 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-4 calabaza (squash)
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 ears of corn (may substitute 1 can of corn)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp diced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (if all you have is powdered, just double this amount)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package pasta (we used quinoa pasta– elbows, spirals,or shells work well)

Remember, Mateo makes enough for ten people (literally), so use the lower end of these measurements and ingredient amounts for a normal sized meal.

Start by prepping the veggies. Devein and dice peppers. Dice onions.


Shuck corn and then remove kernels from the cobs.  It’s easiest to do this over a bowl to avoid corn going everywhere.  Cut the cobs in half and set aside.  Don’t throw them away yet!


Cut the ends off the calabaza.  Cut each squash in half lengthwise; chop into 1/2 inch slices.


Now it’s time to put everything in the pot!  Add onions, peppers, and diced garlic; sauté in olive oil until soft.


Add ground beef, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika and cook until beef starts to brown.  (For a lighter version, pause here to drain the oil from the beef.)  Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste.


Add calabaza, corn cobs and bay leaves.  Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  This is also where you would add the pasta.  Leave covered and cook for 20-30 minutes.  The longer everything stews together, the more intense the flavors will be.


Remove corn cobs and bay leaves before serving.  If you cooked the pasta separately (like Mateo), this is where you would add it to the pot.


Now you have the perfect meal to warm up with during these last few weeks of winter…and a super easy clean-up!


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