Calabacitas and The Feast of Santa Fe

Last night, I made calabacitas, which is a cheesy, creamy concoction of zucchini, chiles, scallions and corn. I also added some potatoes and used it to fill vegetarian soft tacos. It was delicious.

The recipe came from the cookbook, The Feast of Santa Fe by Huntley Dent. Instead of posting the recipe, I’m going to talk about this cookbook. I’ve actually had to move it to the “retired” section of my cookbook collection because I’ve thumbed through it so much that it’s starting to fall apart.

My husband and I went on our honeymoon to Santa Fe, and we were captivated by both the city and its food. New Mexico cooking is both similar to and totally unlike Southwestern, Tex-Mex or Mexican cuisine. It relies on two distinct sauces: red chile sauce and green chile sauce, and is heavily influenced by Native American foods.

I bought The Feast of Santa Fe while I was in Santa Fe, and it was a truly great find. This is not only a cookbook but also a history of New Mexican cuisine, as fun to read as it is to cook from. It contains all of the classic recipes, including both sauces, and almost every recipe suggests several variations. I learned how to make real enchiladas out of this cookbook, as well as burritos and chiles rellenos. Every recipe I tried from it was both delicious and authentic-tasting.

Last night I decided the cookbook needed to be retired before it deteriorated any more, so I could preserve it for special meals. The last recipe I made out of it was the calabacitas. It tasted like it came straight from a Santa Fe restaurant. If you are interested in this style of cooking, The Feast of Santa Fe is the only reference you’ll need.

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