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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Argentina’s Answer to Ho-Hum Zucchini

By Gaby Melian

“Zapallito” translates as “little pumpkin” or “little squash.” The zapallitos I grew up eating in Argentina are called “zapallitos de tronco” (“stem squashes”). They’re small, round, and bright green, with a flavor and texture similar to zucchini, which is easier to find in major American grocery stores. When I was in college, I also had a full-time job, which meant that I didn’t have a lot of free time. Whenever I needed a quick, inexpensive, and filling meal, I turned to zapallitos salteados (or zapallitos revueltos, which is when you add scrambled eggs). Today, every time I cook this for dinner, it reminds me of my college days in Argentina. You can serve your zapallitos salteados with Arroz Blanco. 

Zapallitos Salteados (Stir-Fried Zucchini)

¡En Sus Marcas! Ready!


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin

3 small zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick (about 3 cups)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 carrot, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¡Listos! Set!


12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid

Rubber spatula

Oven mitts 

¡Fuera! Go! 

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat for about 1 minute (the oil should be hot but not smoking). Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the zucchini, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in the carrot, oregano, and thyme.

3. Cover the skillet with a lid; reduce the heat to medium-low; and cook until the zucchini is tender but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Use oven mitts to remove the lid. Serve.

Serves: 4 to 6

Zapallitos Revueltos (Stir-Fried Zucchini with Scrambled Eggs)

If you like, add some scrambled eggs to your zapallitos salteados to turn them into zapallitos revueltos! Once the zucchini is tender in step 3, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. Use a rubber spatula to push the vegetables to 1 side of the skillet. Add 3 large eggs, beaten with a fork, to the empty side of the skillet. Let the eggs set for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir the eggs until they clump and are still slightly wet. Then, gently stir the eggs into the vegetables. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Excerpted, with permission, from Gaby’s Latin American Kitchen: 70 Kid-Tested and Kid-Approved Recipes for Young Chefs by Gaby Melian (America’s Test Kitchen, 2022),