This stuffed calabacita squash is packed with delicious shredded pork, lots of great seasonings, and a cilantro lime cream sauce!
This stuffed calabacita squash gathers inspiration from one of my most favorite recipes, Calabacita! Calabacita, as I grew up knowing it, is a Mexican squash soup. Made with either shredded chicken or pork, it’s a veggie-rich broth soup and was often enjoyed on cooler nights. Calabacita is the name I grew up calling the particular squash we used for the soup! It looks a lot like a smaller, slightly more bulbous, stripped zucchini. Some know of it as “Tatuma Squash.” Here in Texas, calabacita (which is actually Spanish for “zucchini”) is readily available year-round in all grocery stores. That being said, if you can’t find the tasty veggie, feel free to substitute either zucchini or yellow squash!
To prepare the shredded pork for this recipe, I actually used my new favorite kitchen tool, the Instant Pot! It made PERFECT shredded pork. I was amazed. The Instant Pot allowed me to sear the seasoned pork tenderloin (which helps build flavor) and then pressure cook it until perfection. If you too have an Instant Pot, I’ve got details on what buttons to push (& when) below! If you do NOT have an Instant Pot, no worries. I also included instructions if you were to cook the pork in a slow cooker or even if you preferred to use a dutch oven.
The shredded pork is then flavored with tomatoes and an extra dose of Mexican seasoning.
This tasty dish finally comes together after a quick spell in the oven and then is finished off by a generous drizzle of a Chipotle Lime Cream Sauce. It is DELICIOUS.
Pork-Stuffed Calabacita Squash
- 1 pork tenderloin about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon chili powder divided
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin divided
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt divided
- 1 tablespoon butter ghee, or coconut oil
- 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 6 calabacita or "tatuma" squash, seeds removed (may also use summer squash or zucchini)
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
For the chipotle cream sauce::
- 1/3 cup avocado oil mayo
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice about 1 1/2 limes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle or chili powder
Prepare the pork tenderloin by dusting it liberally with half of the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and sea salt. To cook the pork, follow one of the methods below:
- Using the Instant Pot: With just the metal bowl inserted (no extra pieces), turn the Instant Pot onto "Saute." Add the butter and wait until melted. Once melted, add the seasoned pork tenderloin. Brown for 3 to 4 minutes on 3 to 4 sides, or until each side is browned. Press "cancel," cover with 4 to 6 cups of water, and lock the lid into place. Set to cook for 35 minutes. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally before removing the lid.
- Using a Slow Cooker: Using either an oven-safe slow cooker insert or a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the seasoned pork tenderloin. Brown for 3 to 4 minutes on 3 to 4 sides, or until each side is browned. Transfer the pork to the slow cooker, cover with 4 to 6 cups water, and set to "high" for 4 hours.
- Using a Dutch Oven: Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the seasoned pork tenderloin. Brown for 3 to 4 minutes on 3 to 4 sides, or until each side is browned. Cover with 4 to 6 cups water, reduce the heat to low/medium, and let simmer for about 4 hours, or until the meat is tender.
- Once the pork is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl and shred into small pieces. Add the canned tomatoes (with water) and the rest of the spices. Stir to combine.
- Spread the de-seeded squash out into either a large casserole dish or rimmed baking sheet, cut-side facing up. Stuff with the pork mixture and then bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until cooked through but not burned.
- While the squash is baking, prepare the sauce by mixing it together until smooth.
- Once cooked, pour the sauce over top and garnish with the cilantro.