Garden Vegetable Maque Choux

Garden Vegetable Maque Choux

Whenever I’m in the mood for a mélange of fresh vegetables, I head straight for this family-favorite recipe – Garden Vegetable Maque Choux. It’s chock full of my favorite veggies, golden yellow squash, deep green zucchini, corn cut fresh off the cob, and creole tomatoes. Sautéed in butter, onions and garlic, seasoned with your favorite Creole spices, then finished off in a hot oven, these veggies meld together in a rich, buttery, slightly sweet medley of texture and flavor.

What the Heck Does” Maque Choux” Mean?

No one really knows! What we do know is that maque choux (pronounced “mock shoe”) is a Cajun country classic.  Every family in Cajun Louisiana has its own recipe for this dish, and we’ve come up with a variation of our own. People say Cajuns invented this dish with the help of the local Native American population. No one is sure what the name means, although “choux” means cabbage in French (and cabbage does not appear in this dish)! The consensus is that the name is a Cajun corruption of the original Native American name.

Traditional Cajun Maque Choux

The traditional Cajun recipe does not include zucchini or squash, and relies solely on fresh shucked corn simmered in butter, onions and, sometimes, bell peppers. Traditional Cajun Maque Choux calls for whole milk or cream of evaporated milk. . We’ve opted to substitute for the chicken broth for a dairy-free option.

For a meat option, Cajun cooks frequently include diced bacon or tasso and, if you’re so inclined, you can toss in some diced bacon or use bacon grease along with a little less butter to sauté the veggies I read of someone who put chopped andouille sausage in his corn maque choux and won the Grand Prize in a Southern Living cooking contest! We’ve opted for a vegetarian option.

A Healthier Version of Traditional Corn Maque Choux

Our Garden Vegetable Maque Choux is adapted from a recipe called “Garden Collage” in the Cotton Country cookbook published by the Monroe Junior League.

My husband was born and raised in Monroe and this cookbook is pretty much the cooking bible in those parts. After years of reading Cajun and Creole cookbooks, I realized that the Garden Collage recipe is actually a north Louisiana take on the classic Cajun corn Maque Choux — someone in North Louisiana hi-jacked the dish and added more healthy veggies. We’ve done the same.

Sliced zucchini and yellow squash boost the flavor and texture of this dish and diced fresh tomatoes add a “creolized” flavor element. We’ve also omitted the dairy in this dish and substituted chicken broth.

Start with a Base of Aromatics, Then Add Veggies in Layers

Melt the butter and sauté the onion, peppers, and garlic—don’t forget to sprinkle on a layer of salt and pepper in this step. We like to add the cayenne at this stage as well. Follow up with the firmer slices of zucchini and yellow squash. Last to be added are the fresh corn and tomatoes.

Finish Off the Veggies in a Hot Oven

Our recipe calls for the vegetable mixture to be baked in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes, covered for the first 15 minutes and uncovered at the end. Traditional maque choux is simply simmered on the stove on a medium low flame until the vegetables reach the consistency you like. We like to finish the dish off in the oven – it gives the veggies a crusty exterior and melds the flavors into a caramelized, buttery, and slightly sweet casserole of goodness.

Garden Vegetable Maque Choux

March 3, 2020
: 20 min
: 45 min
: 1 hr
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green (or any other color) pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2-3 yellow squash, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 small zucchinis, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs (about 2 cups)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, seeded, cored, and diced
  • ½ cup Chicken broth (more as necessary)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Prep your veggies by dicing the onion, mincing the garlic and jalapeño, slicing the corn off of the cobs, slicing the zucchini and squash, and dicing the tomatoes.
  • Step 2 In a large cast iron skillet, melt 2 tbsp. of butter and sauté the onion, peppers, and garlic until soft.
  • Step 3 Sprinkle on some Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and the cayenne pepper.
  • Step 4 Add the squash and zucchini and sauté for about 3 minutes.
  • Step 5 Add the corn and tomatoes and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.
  • Step 6 Add the chicken broth and simmer for 3-4 minutes
  • Step 7 Add the vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Step 8 Transfer to the oven and bake covered about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.