Welcome to Tex-Mex May! In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which is tied with St. Patty's day for the most Americanized drinking holiday in existence, I did a vegan twist on a classic. Hold on to your horses people, we're making vegan butternut squash quesadillas.
To be honest, I hadn't tried butternut squash until I tried to make these butternut squash nachos, which occasionally pop-up at Chef Chloe's Vegan Cafe in Miami. The roasted squash smelled so sweet and buttery coming out of the oven, I nearly ate all of it off the sheet pan...forget the nachos. Since I'm so impatient with the cooling process, I simplified the butternut-squash-as-cheese concept for this recipe.
Oddly enough, I also found quesadillas "later" in life. I grew up in a small town that didn’t have much in the way of restaurants, so I never had anything that resembled Tex-Mex. My first was at Moe's Southwest Grill when I was about 10. At the time, I was a pretty picky eater, and my friend told me it was “basically a grilled cheese.”
I respectfully disagree. In my opinion, the only thing a quesadilla had in common with a grilled cheese is melted cheese. Quesadillas demand spice and veggies, while you really only need melted cheese for a grilled cheese. You guys know how I feel about mayo, and IMO tomato detracts from what you should be focusing on - the cheese.
Here's what we think makes a solid quesadilla:
- Gooey "cheese"
- Smoky-spicy tex-mex flavor
- Tortilla crunchy enough to dip in guac, yet softer than tortilla chip
- Slightly browned tortilla
- Holds some veggies, black beans etc.
- If you don’t like spicy food, don’t use jalapeños! They’re very hot. Add some sautéed bell pepper and onion instead.
- Just because we're making vegan butternut squash quesadillas doesn't mean we're going guac-less. That, friends, would be anarchy.
Pull out your squash peelers....Print
- 1 large butternut squash
- ½ lime juice
- Olive oil (enough to coat butternut squash)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tortillas (whatever kind you like!)
- 2 jalapeños (use bell pepper if you don't like spicy)
- 1-2 c seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 red chili peppers
- 1 red onion
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 avocados
- 2 T red onion (take from topping pile)
- Juice of ½ lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, peel and dice butternut squash into ½ in - 1 in cubes. Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 20 mins. Flip squash, and roast for another 20 mins, or until lightly golden and soft.
- Slice jalapeños into thin discs, and put in a jar. Add enough seasoned rice vinegar until it almost covers all of the jalapeños. Set aside for at least 1 hour. If you're going for less spicy, slice bell pepper into slivers, discarding the seeds and stem.
- Prep toppings. Thinly dice red onion and chili peppers. For non spicy peeps - slice ½ of the red onion into slivers, and sauté with sliced bell pepper until soft, and a little brown.
- For guac: smash avocado, add salt, pepper and red onion to taste. For 1 small avocado, I use a pinch of salt, 1 Tbsp (ish) red onion, and ¼ lime, juiced.
- Once butternut squash is ready, mash in a bowl with juice of ½ lime until smooth-ish.
- On a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add tortilla, and carefully smear on a layer of butternut squash. Add whatever toppings you like. I used my pickled jalapeños, red onion, and black beans. Non spicy - add sautéed veggies.
- After 2-3 mins, check the bottom of the tortilla by lifting with a spatula. If there are some brown spots, put another tortilla on top, and carefully flip. It's ok if some stuff falls out - that's what I call a "chef snack." Let cook for another 2-3 mins, then use slide off pan and onto a plate. Slice, and serve!
Need more Tex-Mex in your life? Check out these out!
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