My experience at farmers markets goes something like this: buy more than I’ll ever eat, schlepp my bags with cart-envy, and get lessons from strangers. It’s the same for me at any market, in any town. I’m just happy to be among the food and the food people.
Squash blossom quesadilla came from one of those generous lectures. A lady was grabbing fistfuls of blossoms – 2 pounds to be exact. When that is-she-stuffing-mattresses look came across my face – you know the one – she shared – I mean gushed – I mean wept about the wonders of squash blossom quesadillas. How could I refuse a bag; that ironically squashed under melons in my sad sacks. First batch – eh. I researched more, talked with the squash blossom vendor again and made a few more batches and then this week something magical happened.
Yeah, yeah the squash blossom quesadilla turned out amazingly, I love it and I’ll tell you more in a minute.
But, this week, I’m at Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and realized this isn’t just any market – I hugthis girl, who I wrote about in last month’s Edible Westside magazine, she introduces me to a hero chef from this restaurant and my red jalapeñogal, Stephanie, hands me a bag of hard to find red peppers she’d saved for my stockpile readying forChristmas gifts, and themushroom guy and squash blossom man recognize me. Best part, I shopped using my new old cart – a hand-me-down from my neighbor who offered it for free in our neighborhood newsletter. I wasn’t just in any market, it was MY market. I wept and then wept over the quesadilla. Don’t judge. See, LA is this spread out, transient town where you have a million first-time relationships with people. But, like in the movie Groundhog Day, you start over each time you see them. I realized, and it only took thirteen years, that we are actually rooted and relationships have well, blossomed. Don’t judge my puns. That realization, from a girl who’s lived all over the country, was that this is my hometown.
Now to the squash blossom quesadilla. I learned that these quesadillas, quesadillas de flor de calabaza,are common in Mexico. I learned that blossoms are eithermale or female. The male doesn’t have a baby zucchini attached, duh. I learned that squash blossoms ramp up the nutritional value about as much as iceberg lettuce, but they’re a whole lot prettier. They are cheap and perishable. Finally, I learned that a quesadilla does not earn its name or weaping status until some cheese enters the picture.
Prepping male blossoms is easy by removing the stem and stamen (apologies) and giving them a rough chop. We assemble and cook the quesadilla in the same pan. I’m loving sprouted tortillas right now, but use whatever you have on-hand. We have vegetables and whole grain tortillas for our healthy quotient , but that’s not where this story ends. A few strands of shredded cheese make this, and most, meals soar.
If you don’t have access to squash blossoms at this moment, use shredded zucchini squash – note: I like to remove the center panel of seeds to reduce moisture. Or make a note that when you see these beauties in your grocer’s produce aisle or at your farmer’s market, make friends with them because you know you have an approachable way to make them bloom.
BTW if y’all have other uses for squash blossoms, do share.
squash blossom quesadilla
preptime: 15 minutes 2 servings
cooktime: 5 minutes
2 tsp butter (divided)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano chili pepper, chopped, seeds removed
1/2 tsp ground epazote, Mexican seasoning, or use cilantro, thyme, marjoram, basil or parsley – I like cumin
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb squash blossoms – males, stems and stamens removed, roughly chopped into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca, Cotija or Monterrey Jack cheese
2 medium sized tortillas
- Melt 1 tsp of butter in a pan large enough for a full tortilla.
- Add onion and peppers to the pan. Sauté until softened and beginning to brown – 3-4 minutes.
- Add epazote or other herbs and salt & pepper to your liking. Cook 30 seconds just to let flavors meld.
- Add squash blossoms. Sauté, stirring, until blossoms soften, about 2 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from pan.
- Melt 1/4 tsp butter in the pan.
- Add first tortilla. Cook for 30 seconds and turn over.
- Fill one half of the tortilla with half of the vegetables.
- Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
- Fold over tortilla and let it cook one minute longer.
- Cut in half and serve.
- Repeat with second tortilla from step 7.
- Use pre-chopped onions and pre-shredded cheese
- Use a large pan to cook both tortillas at the same time.
- Pre-make entire tortilla – soften tortilla in butter, fill with all ingredients, let cool, wrap and refrigerate (or freeze). When it’s time to eat, sauté slowly in pan until fillings are warmed through.
- Pre-make fillings and assemble at dinner.
recipe provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com