Sunday, November 4, 2012

Roasted Squash Quesadillas

tortillas artesanales
Photo by Loborroso (Flickr)
Traditional tortilla making, in Mexico

I've noticed that there is a myth floating around that you have to dedicate a TON of time to preparing healthy and cheap food. That couldn't be more wrong, in my experience.

I am a full-time student in a very busy program... we have multiple assignments due almost every week, ones that take quite a bit of time to prepare and execute. Today I was prepping and shooting vegetables for a "colour theory" assignment, as well as a still-life. Yesterday I was out for 4 hours shooting over 1,500 photos for a timelapse video due next week. Not complaining, mind you, I love being in school learning more about something I am passionate about. But I don't have a lot of spare time.

Here's my go-to dinner for when I am tired, busy or just plain lazy.

Roasted Squash Quesadillas

Makes 2 quesadillas: feeds one hungry student as a main course, or two for an appetizer

4 tortillas, corn or flour (doesn't matter, use what you can get cheaply)
1/2 cup winter squash, roasted
1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
4 T refried beans

1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

You can use any winter squash for this recipe: butternut, buttercup, acorn... whatever is on sale!  I like to roast the squash when I have something else going into the oven, just to save on energy (even though I don't pay extra for utilities, I know many of you do and I'm sure my landlady appreciates it).

You can roast the squash a few different ways, depending on how else you might use it that week. 

The easiest way is to chop it in half, scoop out the seeds, and place face down in a oven safe dish. Add a little water to the bottom of the roasting pan (1/2 cup should do) and cook for 45 minutes at 375 F. You will know it's done when you poke it with a skewer or long fork and the skewer easily pierces the flesh.  Allow to cool, flip over, and scoop out the flesh. 

You can also peel the squash, chop into 3/4 inch dice, toss with a little oil and roast. This is just a bit more fiddly and time consuming.  It will need a little less time in the oven if you do it this way, about 20 to 25 minutes, tossing from time to time to make sure all sides are nicely caramelized.

On to the quesadillas

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large frying pan. 

Add one tortilla. Top with half of the refried beans, squash, and raw cabbage. Spread ingredients around until about 1/2 inch from the edge. Put another tortilla on top, as a lid, and flatten with your egg flipper (or spatula, as I'm told it's properly called!)

Cook on medium heat until golden (I didn't time this... I'd say about 3 minutes each side, but peek every now and then to make sure it's not getting too brown). Flip, and cook the other side.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, adding a little more oil to your pan for the second quesadilla if it needs it.  If you have a no-stick pan you probably can do without the oil.

Cut into quarters, and serve with salsa and sour cream.

You'll notice I don't use cheese in my quesadillas. That's because I had a horrible gallbladder infection in the summer and I was on a very low-fat diet. Now that I can have cheese again, I don't find that I miss it. The refried beans keep the tortillas mushed together quite nicely, so you don't really need it to stick the layers together.

As for the cabbage... be brave!! I first added cabbage to my quesadillas when I had some leftover coleslaw mix in the bottom of the fridge and wanted to use it up.  It makes for the most AMAZING crunch in the quesadillas, although it's not authentic at all. If you aren't sure, just add a little bit on your first attempt and then add more next time if you like it.

Today's homework (show warm and cool tones in the same photograph)
First I roasted the squash, then I photographed it,
and now I'm eating it in a quesadilla for dinner!


sorry i had to turn on moderation; was getting tons of spam. sigh.