Recipe: Calablacitas con Queso

Calablacitas con Queso

By chefaaronsanchez.com - , , - Nov 21, 2017

This is one of my family’s favorites, I grew up having this side dish at all of our big holiday gatherings. I have such fond memories of making this for the first time as a young man with my Abuela. This is a great one to get the kids involved. It’s simple, quick and delicious.  For the adults at the dinner table, I suggest pairing this with Terrazas Reserva Torrontes. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30M

Ingredients

Calablacitas
  • 2 thick slices bacon, preferably maple cured
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into large dice
  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Cilantro-Cotija Pesto
  • ½ cup crumbled queso blanco (preferable Cacique)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro-Cotija Pesto
  • 1 cup unsalted raw or roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, stems trimmed 2 inches from the bottom
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus extra for storage
  • ½ serrano chile or 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (include seeds for additional spice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ crumbled cotija (preferably Cacique brand) or shredded pecorino or Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and brown, approximately 5 minutes. Remove bacon and let rest on a paper towel lined plate. When cool enough to handle, dice the bacon and set aside.
2. Using the same pan with the reserve bacon fat, add the garlic and set it over medium heat. Cook the garlic for approximately 1 minute, until it starts to turn golden brown. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini has softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and scallion and cook until the tomato begins to break down, about 5 minutes.
3. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the Cilantro-Cotjia Pesto and queso blanco until the cheese starts to melt. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Top with bacon and serve immediately.

Cilantro-Cotija Pesto
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
2. Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a dry baking sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and bake, checking them and shaking the pan every 3 minutes, until they start to dance, puff up and brown lightly, about 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, transfer the seeds to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
3. Put the cilantro, basil and olive oil into a food processor, and puree for 2 minutes. Add the chile, garlic, pumpkin seeds and cotija and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. To store, put it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour ¼ inch of olive oil over the surface to keep out the air. Each time you use it, stir that oil in, and replace with another ¼ inch of oil before closing the container, this makes an airtight seal that will keep it tasting fresh for up to 10 days.