Beautiful squash and zucchini blossoms are examples of nature’s finest handiwork. And unlike most edible flowers, which are lovely to look at but fairly nondescript in a dish (think nasturtiums on that beautifully composed restaurant salad), these pretty blossoms are absolutely, positively delicious to cook with. There’s so much more to them than the stuffed and fried versions we know so well. Don’t get me wrong, I love this traditional preparation, I just find it a bit fiddly. For that reason, I tend to leave the battering and frying to restaurants. If you haven’t tried blossoms in other preparations, let me introduce you to a wonderful Mexican dish. I first tried squash blossom quesadillas in my husband’s native New Mexico. Oh my goodness did I fall in love with this simple plate of food! I look forward to making it every year about this time. I’ve changed things up a little from the traditional recipe, most notably by adding red onion for sweetness and corn for both its sweet taste and crunchy texture. Rest assured, if you haven’t gotten your hands on squash or zucchini blossoms this summer, this quesadilla is equally lovely with the zucchini or squash fruit that grows from the flower.
Roasted poblanos are an important element in this quesadilla. You can substitute Anaheim chiles if you can’t find poblanos. Just make sure you roast and peel them first. They can be roasted either under the broiler or on the grill. These are mild chiles that will add flavor, not heat.
Makes 4 quesadillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup corn kernels (from about 1 ear)
1 large roasted and peeled poblano chile, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups Mexican queso fresco (or substitute ricotta)
1 teaspoon Tabasco, optional
12 zucchini blossoms, cleaned and trimmed*, and coarsely chopped into large pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
4 burrito size flour tortillas (about 9-inch diameter)
4 tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softening, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and corn and cook, stirring, until the corn is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chile, queso fresco, Tabasco (if using), zucchini blossoms, and cilantro and mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Lay the tortillas out on a cutting board and divide the filling evenly among them, piling the filling onto one half of the circle so that you can enclose the quesadillas by folding half the tortilla over the filling. Use about 3/4 cup of filling per tortilla. Before folding the tortilla over the filling, sprinkle each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the grated Cheddar. The Cheddar will act as the glue to the quesadilla and add a tangy sharp note to the filling. Now fold over each tortilla.
- In a medium frying pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat and swirl it around to coat the pan. When it begins sizzling, add a quesadilla and brown on one side for about 1 minute, then flip and brown on the other side for about 30 seconds. Slide out of the pan onto a plate and wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining butter and quesadillas. If you like, drizzle each quesadilla with Crema Mexicana and serve.
* To clean the zucchini blossoms, trim the stems, remove the stamen inside the flowers and wash out the flowers under lightly running water. Gently shake dry.
Nutritional analysis based on 4 servings:
Calories 509, Fat 27g, Sodium 564mg, Carbohydrate 50g, Fiber 4g, Sugars 3g,