Quesadillas are a favorite among staff and participants at The Sylvia Center. Our most recent quesadilla creation combines the textures of delicate summer squash, tender swiss chard and crunchy bell peppers.
The key to a successful quesadilla is to first, dice your vegetables small enough that they nestle unobtrusively into the melted cheese. It’s the worst when you overload on vegetables and end up with a sloppy mess rather than a quesadilla. This is part of the reason we grate the squash. (The other part being it is more kid friendly.) Properly sized vegetables and a moderate amount of cheese will allow the two to seamlessly meld together, resulting in a handheld masterpiece.
The other most important thing to keep in mind is the heat. When preparing to assemble the quesadillas in the skillet, keep the heat low enough that the vegetables do not continue to cook. This ensures that the cheese melts and the tortilla becomes crispy, but the vegetables do not become mushy and over cooked.
Once you get the cooking technique down, there’s a quesadilla for every vegetable and every season! When choosing our ingredients, onion and garlic are always on the list while our vegetable, herb and topping choices rotate depending on what’s available to us. If you have enough supplies, make some extra quesadillas to store in the fridge for lunch or snack the next day. Your future self will thank you.
Summer squash, Swiss Chard, and Bell Pepper Quesadillas
1 medium summer squash, grated
1 large red onion, diced
1 large pepper, diced
1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped or whole leaves if they are small
1 small bunch of green onions or chives, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A few tablespoons of olive oil
½ tsp cumin
Small bunch of fresh oregano, minced (or dry if fresh is not available)
1-2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Splash of Lime Juice (optional)
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste (optional)
Sour cream, for topping (optional)
Salsa, for topping (optional)
6-8 whole wheat tortillas
1. Once squash is grated, place in a strainer and squeeze the moisture out of it with your hands. Let squash continue to strain while preparing the remaining ingredients.
2. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat.
3. Add diced onions and peppers When onions start to become translucent, add a dash of salt. Then add squash and swiss chard and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are tender and the water from the squash cooks off.
4. Add the cumin, herbs, and salt & pepper to taste. Add lime juice and crushed red pepper if desired. Keep warm on low heat.
5. Separately, heat griddle or non-stick pan that is large enough for the tortilla to sit flat over medium heat. In it, add a little oil. Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle some shredded cheese on the tortilla, about ¼ cup. Then add some of the vegetable mixture (about ½ – ¾ cup). Add a little bit more cheese and then place another tortilla on top.
6. Cook the quesadillas for 2-3 minutes until the bottom starts to brown, then flip, allowing the other side to brown and the cheese to melt thoroughly.
7. Repeat process to make additional quesadillas.
8. Allow the quesadillas to cool just slightly before cutting into triangular pieces. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, salsa, and a sprinkle of chives.