Quesadillas with zucchini flowers (New York, July 30, 2012)

A very quick post, dear friends, on the first day of August. We just got back from an extended weekend trip to New York, where many slices of pizza, soup dumplings and martinis were enjoyed. Also, there was jellyfish marinated in soy sauce, recommended by Andrew and perhaps a new sabasalads favorite. No oysters this time, unfortunately, but there’s always the next trip.

Apart from enjoying the delicacies of our favorite eastern-seaboard city, this trip was taken in preparation for a move to NYC in the fall. Many of you reading this talk to me regularly in person anyway so you probably know that Cesar and I are relocating to New York for at least a year, and hopefully longer, this September. I wanted to make some sort of announcement on the blog but I never did. Now feels like the right time.

To make a long story short, some opportunities came our way and we decided to take them. Mine is research related and Cesar’s is work related, but aside from that we had many reasons to want to make this happen. Last year, I had the chance to spend many months in two very interesting cities abroad, but I’m more excited about this next thing – Berlin and London felt like extended research trips, but I am hoping this move will trigger something further-reaching. I don’t know what exactly that might be, and it may or may not have to do with the dissertation.

Now back to the food talk. More specifically: zucchini. I never loved zucchini as a child and until recently it didn’t call my attention. For some reason I can’t get enough of it now. It’s ranking up there with kale and broccolini as one of my go-to’s, and I’d even say that I crave it on occasion. Entering August, we’re still in the heart of zucchini season and there are so many things to do with this vegetable that I could probably devote an entire summer’s worth of posts to it if I got my act together. Today I want to mention the zucchini flower though, since I’ve been seeing it at almost every farmer’s market I’ve been to lately, including one on Central Park West where I paid $19 for a bag of mixed greens. I’ll be back next time with another recipe involving the zucchini itself.

Zucchini blossoms are bright orange and usually come in small plastic tubs. They’re overpriced like many other speciality products that used to be thrown away in the United States, but they’re worth a try if you’re looking for something interesting and seasonal in the next couple of weeks. In Mexico, these flowers have always been utilized and one of the best ways that they are used is in quesadillas. One thing you need to know before you buy them though is that one package doesn’t go very far: these flowers wilt in the pan and reduce to a fraction of their bulk by the time you’re done. The taste is worth it though: while they don’t keep their brilliant orange color, combined with cheese and onions, they make a meaty filling (in the way that eggplant is meaty) without the trouble of cooking any meat at all.

Quesadillas with zucchini flowers (flor de calabaza)

1 pack of farmer’s market zucchini flowers (sometimes called “squash blossoms)

1/2 lb white Mexican-style melting cheese (e.g. queso Chihuahua or Oaxaca), shredded

1 small sweet onion, finely diced

8 corn tortillas


Prepare the flowers by washing lightly and removing the stamens and stems. Pat dry with a towel and then cut the flowers into strips. 

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and cook until fragrant and translucent. Add the flowers and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté these until they are wilted and have released much of their water. You want them to caramelize slightly in the pan. When they’re done, turn the heat off and set pan aside.

Between two tortillas, pile some shredded cheese and a bit of the onion-flower mixture (you should have 4 total). Heat these over medium heat until the cheese starts to melt and then flip them, browning on both sides. 

Serve immediately as an afternoon snack.





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