|Roasted winter squash is delicious paired with black beans, spinach and sharp cheese.|
A vegetarian quesadilla with substance
As a child I couldn’t stand squash. Mom always served it mashed and just the thought of it made me gag. I missed dessert every time we had squash for supper because I just couldn’t eat it.
What I didn’t know at the time is that my brother Erik, who loved mashed squash, had a way around vegetables that he didn’t like. He used to slip his shelled peas into a slender drawer in the dining room table. Mom found them months later, dried and brittle.
I have since developed a love of squash and we eat it often through the fall and winter. My son’s favourite way to eat it is in a quesadilla, mixed with black beans, cheese and a few greens, served with salsa and guacamole. The recipe was inspired by sweet potato quesadillas that my sister once made.
Roasted Squash Black Bean Quesadillas
½ buttercup squash (can use any winter squash)
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup cooked black beans
Handful of fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro (optional)
2 cups grated cheese
6-8 8” tortillas shells
- Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake cut-side down at 400 F until soft. Scrape out the flesh.
- In a frypan over medium heat sauté onion and garlic in oil until onion is soft. Add cooked squash and sauté until warmed through (another 5 minutes or so.) Stir in black beans and season with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
- Spread ¼ cup of the squash mixture on one half of the tortilla. Sprinkle over a bit of cheese, then spinach. Finish with a bit more cheese and the cilantro if using. Fold the empty side over the layered side, press gently. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Cook in a dry fry pan over medium heat until lightly browned on each side.
- Bake your squash ahead of time and freeze the flesh. Then all you need to do is thaw it before getting your fillings going.
- Using a pizza wheel, cut each tortilla into thirds. Serve with all of your favourite Mexican sides (salsa, guacamole) and carrot-cabbage salad.
- Try replacing the squash with sweet potato (baked or boiled).
- Try feta or mild chevre (soft goat’s cheese) instead of cheddar or mozzarella.
- Use pita bread instead of tortilla shells. Cut them in half, stuff, brush with oil (mixed with a bit of chili powder) and bake at 350 ’til the filling is warm and the cheese has melted.
- Soak and boil black beans from dried for more flavour and texture, and to reduce your BPA exposure (from the lining of most cans).
- It’s easy — just soak 1-2 cups of dried beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain, add fresh water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil and simmer ’til cooked to your liking (45 min or so).
- Freeze extras so you always have them on hand so you can avoid canned beans.