Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Sisters Quesadilla

Last Year's Post: Dried Fruit Sauce (Mincemeat Sauce)
Two Years Ago:  Couscous with Turkey or Chicken

Time for a change of pace (and effort) after the big meal.  "Three Sisters" is an agricultural term for three of the main crops of Native America:  squash, corn and beans.  They historically benefit from being planted together - the corn provides a stalk for the beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen for the other plants, and the squash spreads along the ground providing shade and preventing weeds.   I read somewhere that plants that are grown together usually also taste good together.  I don't know why that would be true but it's definitely true in this case, making an excellent vegetarian base for empanadas, soups, stews, tarts, or a quesadilla.

As written, this quesadilla is mild yet flavorful and filling.  If you want, you could increase the spice level in one of several ways:  use a hotter chili powder, substitute Pepper Jack for the cheddar cheese, add jalapenos, or use a spicy salsa.  Either way it's a fast, delicious and healthy option for meatless Mondays or Black Fridays.

Three Sisters Quesadilla
Serves 4

1 cup dried black beans (or 1 15 oz can black beans)
1  teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika or chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 zucchini or other summer squash, cut lengthwise into quarters and thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 ear of grilled corn, kernels cut from the cob (or 1 cup frozen corn)
cilantro leaves to taste
4 medium flour tortillas
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Sliced avocado, optional
Lime wedges, optional

Cook the beans, if starting with dried beans. If using canned beans, drain, rinse and drain again.  Toss with smoked paprika or chili powder and cumin.  Season to taste with salt.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a nonstick pan and heat on medium-high. Add the squash pieces and sprinkle with the salt, then cook, stirring and tossing until the pieces go limp and start to turn golden. Sprinkle with the pepper flakes and keep cooking until the squash has released most of its water and has caramelized with some edges becoming crispy and brown.  Add the corn to the pan and for an additional minute.  Remove from pan to a bowl but do not clean the pan.

To assemble the quesadillas, lay out one tortilla, and sprinkle one half with cheese. On top of the cheese, add beans, corn, and squash to taste along with cilantro leaves, then sprinkle a small amount of cheese over the vegetables.    Fold the other half over the filling.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan. Place one quesadilla into the pan and cook until the edges turn brown–about 1 minute, then carefully flip the quesadilla and cook until the underside is golden brown and the edges are crispy, about another minute. Repeat with the other quesadillas.

Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, yogurt or sour cream, optional avocado and lime wedges.

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