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Calabaza Frita / Fried Pumpkin, 2000

December 2, 2011
The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

Kennedy, Diana. The essential cuisines of Mexico. New York : Clarkson Potter, 2000. P. 9. [TX716 .M4 K473 2000]

Published in 2000, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico brings together revised and updated recipes from three foundational books on Mexican cooking by Diana Kennedy: The Cuisines of Mexico (1972), The Tortilla Book (1975), and Mexican Regional Cooking (1984).  Kennedy, who has lived and researched in Mexico for decades, was awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle from the Government of the Republic of Mexico for her work in documenting regional cuisine.

Today’s recipe is a simple but delicious Yucatecan pumpkin dish that would make an admirable vegetarian side dish for next year’s Thanksgiving.  Although the title translates as fried pumpkin, it is really more of a slightly-wet, sauteed vegetable dish.  It can be prepared with mature (orange) or immature (green) pumpkin.  If you use the latter, you can skip the pre-cooking step.  To turn this into a main dish, Kennedy suggests adding cooked pork ribs.

Calabaza Frita

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 pounds unpeeled pumpkin
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 botanik chile (or green bell pepper, if not available), seeded and finely chopped
  • 12 ounces tomatoes, finely chopped.
  • salt, to taste

To serve:

1/3 cup finely grated anejo or romano cheese


Put the pumpkin pieces into a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook, covered, until still a little firm, about 20 minutes depending on the type of pumpkin.  Drain, peel, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Set aside.


Heat the oil in a deep flameproof casserole; add the onion, pepper, and tomatoes with salt to taste and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking, until well seasoned and still a little juicy–about 8 minutes.


Add the cubed pumpkin and mix well.  Continue cooking over low heat, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking, adding a little water if mixture is too dry, for about 15 minutes.  Test for salt, then set aside to season for at least 30 minutes.


Serve, sprinkled with cheese and accompanied by tostadas.


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