The Unorthodox Epicure — Esquites stuffed Zucchini

I still remember my first taste of zucchini. Sort of.

We were probably seven or eight when a childhood friend’s mom presented us with warm muffins and challenged us to guess the main ingredient. But neither of us could escape the perfectly married flavors of sugar, cinnamon and other spices to even venture a guess. I’d heard of this member of the Cucurbita pepo family, when I stuffed down my first zucchini muffin but couldn’t fathom how a green summer squash could make a muffin taste like it belonged in the dessert section at Luby’s Cafeteria.

Over the years, in the South anyway, zucchini emerged onto the food scene at a pace similar to what quinoa has done more recently. It started showing up everywhere — in cakes, muffins, stir fries, on appetizer menus and too many others to remember. Fact is, zucchini’s mild flavor makes it an outstanding candidate to take on the flavors of just about any course or cuisine.

Zucchini stuffed Esquites is a homecoming of sorts for the common green squash. Though Italian horticulturists developed many of the fruit varieties that we commonly refer to as zucchini, the plant is actually rooted in Central America. Esquites is the off-the-cob version of Elote, a popular Mexican street corn, and is traditionally served in cups.

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Esquites stuffed Zucchini

Esquites stuffed Zucchini — There's plenty of zesty zing in this Mexican-Italian fusion.

Esquites stuffed Zucchini — There’s plenty of zesty zing in this Mexican-Italian fusion.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Esquites stuffed Zucchini
There's plenty of zesty zing in this Mexican-Italian fusion. Serve it as a side with grilled fish or chicken; or cut into sections for wonderful fresh tasting appetizers.
Recipe type: Side/Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
  • 4 - Medium (6-8 inch) Zucchini squash, washed
  • 2 cups - Fresh or thawed (frozen) corn
  • 4 TB - Mayonnaise
  • 1 TB - Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp - Chile powder (preferably Ancho)
  • Zest and juice from one lime (You'll squeeze the juice over the finished dish.)
  • Queso fresco, Feta or Goat cheese crumbles
  1. Cut zucchini squash in half lengthwise; using a spoon, gently scoop out the pulp*, leaving about ½-inch of thickness along the walls of the fruit.
  2. Combine corn, mayonnaise, cilantro, chile powder and lime zest in a bowl.
In the oven:
  1. On a parchment-line baking sheet, cook stuffed zucchini in a 350F oven until soft, about 20 minutes.
On the grill:
  1. Place zucchini directly on the grill or on a grill plate and cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.
Garnish and enjoy
  1. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the cooked Esquites stuffed Zucchini and garnish with crumbled cheese.
*Save that pulp! It makes a great (hidden) addition to meatloaf and meat sauces. (Not to mention, baked goods!)



  1. These look fantastic – and such a great addition to the regular grill rotation – but you know what I would add 😉

  2. When I first saw the title, I thought to myself “finally, Adam has posted a recipe that I don’t want to try”. Not the case at all – cilantro, ancho and cheese sounds really good Adam. Pinned.

    • adamjholland says:

      If you’re looking for a recipe that you’ll not likely want to try, wait until Thursday. That recipe is proof that I do this website for the one person that I know better than anyone else. 😉

  3. Wao Adam you made zucchini appealing and sex! just for once! This dish looks amazing!

    • adamjholland says:

      Gaila – You just used the word ‘sex’ in a response to my post, and I am now forever yours. 😉

  4. I feel so ashamed…I live in Southern California and had never heard of esquites (which after I did a quick search told me its Mexican corn). Regardless, Adam, these stuffed zucchinis look INCREDIBLE! It’s like a delivery system of corn goodness. I mean, not only do they look gorgeous, but this is the kind of dish I can see the macho guys at a party even downing. They probably wouldn’t even realize they’re eating a vegetable, it looks SO good. Fantastic, Adam!

    • adamjholland says:

      Now hold on, Beeta! This recipe was not intended for macho guys (or macho gals, for that matter). If you should make this recipe for a party, keep these AWAY from macho guys. You’ve been warned. 😉

  5. Adam: Sounds and looks so good!
    Thanks for the tip on the pulp, I hate wasting.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

  6. You learn something new everyday! I’ve never heard of this, but I hope to try it soon. Your pictures have me wanting to dig in. 🙂

    • adamjholland says:

      My pleasure, Tammy. I’m a journalist (at heart and in real life). And I’m a gardener. Go figure. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Stuffed zucchini sounds great! I’ll have to remember to save my zucchini pulp next time for zucchini bread, great tip! This recipe looks so hearty and full of exquisite flavor and texture. Great recipe!

    I created a southern cooking and baking blog not long ago.
    I really would appreciate it if you’d check my website out.
    Thanks a lot! 🙂

  8. In college I totally lived on fried zucchini with garlic sauce and deep dish pizza. Yeah. And probably the occasional beer. Those were probably the first zucchini I ever ate and now I know if I had just had these I might not have gained that freshman 15. Or 20. Where were you when I needed you?

  9. Another month or so and we’ll be seeing the tables on the side of the roads with zucchini & “FREE – PLEASE TAKE SOME”. I love zucchini and this looks really fabulous.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thanks, Diane. That’s sort of how people are around here with tomatoes and okra. I only have two tomato plants this year, so I’ll be using everything I grow. I have four cucumber plants (in pots, no less) and I’ve already pickled 14 quarts. (I’m sort of a pickle freak.)

  10. Made this tonight. Super flavorful! So yummy. Easy weeknight meal that tastes like a stroll down the calle in Mexico.


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