Summer squash season is in full swing. As anyone with enough sunlight to grow the stuff will tell you, it grows like a weed. One plant is more than enough to feed two people for the whole summer. Folks with more zucs than they can eat often tell these not-quite-sad stories about struggling to use up their summer squash quickly enough. It’s hard to feel bad for them when one little basket of zucchini costs $4 at the market, but I count my blessings – among them, a beautiful herb garden that’s got enough chives for omelets all summer long, and three different kinds of mint, all growing at record pace.
Last week at the market, I bought a basket of baby summer squash with the blossoms still attached. Generally, I’d snip off the blossoms, coat them in batter, and fry’em up, but I’d gone to boot camp – people, this boot camp is serious – and I was feeling virtuous. So instead, I chopped them, tossed them with some mexican cheese and slices of the zucchini, and stuffed them into quesadillas.
The recipe is simple, and open to endless riffs and interpretations. We’re talking two flour tortillas, whatever fillings you want, and heat. That’s it. I’ve added mushrooms, fresh corn, roasted poblano peppers, cherry tomatoes, you name it.
As I write this, I’m in Austin for work. I’m quite sure the city famous for its migas would frown upon my very yuppified version of a quesadilla, but if I’m going to eat what essentially amounts to two pieces of bread and a bunch of cheese for dinner, I’d like to supplement it with some green. So there you have it.
I was serious about the countless riffs. I’ve eliminated the mexican cheese entirely, in favor of fresh chevre. It’s a totally different thing, but good in its own right. Another option – especially if you’re eating this for breakfast, which I would heartily encourage – is to fry an egg into your quesadilla. Here’s how it works: scramble an egg. when the pan is hot, pour the egg in, let it spread, and promptly place a flour tortilla over the egg, covering its surface entirely. Pile your toppings onto the tortilla, and depending on how hungry you are, either leave it open-face or put another tortilla overtop. Eggy deliciousness. Or, if you want the eggs inside the quesadilla, scramble them separately and pile them on before adding the second tortilla.
I told you, lots of riffs. I’ll stop now – but you shouldn’t. These are meant to be a vehicle for whatever is in your fridge. Go crazy.
Summer Squash Quesadillas
serves 2, easily doubled
4 flour tortillas
2 small or 1 large summer squash, sliced into coins
1 tablespoon butter or oil
a handful of squash blossoms, roughly chopped (if you don’t have these, simply add some extra squash)
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup shredded Mexican or pepperjack cheese (or substitute fresh chevre)
salsa or salsa verde, for serving
Set an 8-inch pan over medium heat and add butter or oil. When butter has melted or oil starts to shimmer, add summer squash in a single layer. Add smoked paprika and cook squash coins until lightly browned on one side. Flip or turn coins, add scallions, and cook about 2 more minutes, until the other side is brown. Transfer squash to a plate and set aside.
Put one tortilla down in the pan (no need to add more fat – they shouldn’t stick). Add your toppings – first the cheese, then the still-warm squash – and top with a second tortilla. Cook about 3 minutes, until the bottom tortillas is well-browned. Press down on the top tortilla to make sure everything is sticking together, then flip the whole thing so the top tortilla is now on the bottom. Cook 3 more minutes, then transfer to a plate, cut into quarters, and repeat to make the second quesadilla.
Serve with salsa or salsa verde.