I finally had to turn my car’s AC on the other day, the temperature finally broke 80. And with summer, comes one of my favorite seasonal foods — summer squash. While the squash at the grocery store wasn’t the prettiest, by the time I made it there my heart was set and I had to have some.
I’m not really sure what this dish is called.
It’s one of the foods I learned by watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother all prepare. But like how the Spanish language was lost between generations, the name of this dish was as well. I remember my grandmother calling is calabaza, but I don’t think the word for squash does the taste of the dish justice.
I’ve made a few alterations, mainly to make it more single-dish friendly. Omit browning the noodles if you want to speed it up even more, but the flavor the noodles get from being fried first make all the difference. I use yellow squash and zucchini. My cousin and I disagree on this point, she thinks adding the zucchini makes it a different dish. But I think its tasty and adds a nice element of color.
- Squash and zucchini (I used 6 small pieces, but three large pieces are perfect)
- Package of vermicelli
- 1 lb Pork chops
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons cumin
- 1 can of whole kernel corn
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- vegetable oil
I like to get all of my chopping aside first. Slice squash into thin strips and set aside. Cut pork into cubes. My mother would leave the pork on the bone, but I like to take it off and cut into little pieces. Mince garlic.
In a large skillet or pot, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Break vermicelli noodles in half. Snap them over the sink or a garbage can, you don’t want the little pieces in the pot since they’ll burn quickly.
Brown the noodles, using a pair of tongs to turn them constantly to prevent burning. Once most of the noodles are brown, remove the pot from the heat, remove the noodles from the pan and place in a separate bowl. By very, very careful when removing the noodles because they will be very hot and burn on contact with your skin. Set the noodles aside.
If you’re going to use the same pan/pot to prepare the rest of the food, make sure you’ve gotten every single piece of noodle out. Since I don’t have a ton of dishes, I use the same one, but if you don’t mind washing the dishes, you can switch.
Add more vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pot and add garlic. Let the garlic simmer for a minute.
Add the cubed pork to the pan. Let it brown on one side the stir to heat other side. Add cumin to cover the pork.
Once the pork has been browned, add remaining ingredients and about two cups of water, or enough to cover the pork. Let simmer with the lid on until the noodles are soft, about 10 minutes. (If you don’t brown the noodles, you will need more water and this will take longer.)
Remove lid and let simmer about another 10 minutes until the squash is soft and most of the water has boiled out of the pot. Add additional cumin, garlic powder, salt or pepper to taste.
I serve with hot sauce and corn tortillas.