Squash blossom quesadillas. Such an easy way to use up your garden surplus compared to stuffing, battering, and frying the delicate little flowers. And the delicate taste is so, so lovely.
Squash blossom quesadillas. Because as much as we love delicate squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, battered, and fried, we love even more the fact that this recipe has only five ingredients and requires a lot less fuss. The zucchini flavor is faint and plays quite nicely with cilantro and pepper Jack cheese.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Where To Find Squash Blossoms
If you grow zucchini or any variety of summer squash in your garden, then chances are you already know that you can pluck the squash blossoms from the vine and use them in all manner of lovely things in the kitchen. No garden? No problem. You can also find squash blossoms at some farmers markets and specialty grocery stores during summer. They tend to be a little pricey. But worth the splurge.
Squash Blossom Quesadillas
- 12 squash blossoms
- 6 corn tortillas (preferably 6-inch | 15-cm)
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded pepper Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Carefully look over each squash blossom and brush off any dirt or small bugs you find. Carefully trim the stems and stamens. Resist the urge to wash the squash blossoms. They’re quite delicate and will easily tear and potentially fall apart.
- Warm a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium heat. Place 1 tortilla in the warm pan and heat, turning once, for about 15 seconds on each side to soften. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon cilantro, and some pepper on half the tortilla. Place 2 squash blossoms on top of the cheese, arranging the flower petals at the edge of the tortilla so they peek out slightly. Fold the tortilla in half and press down lightly with a spatula. Cook for about 1 minute, then flip and cook the other side for 1 minute more, until the tortilla is thoroughly warmed and the cheese has melted.
- Transfer the quesadilla to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat to make 5 more squash blossom quesadillas. Serve warm.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This utterly delightful squash blossom quesadillas recipe is the epitome of fine garden-to-table eating. We’re always searching for new ways to use the lovely squash blossoms in our vegetable garden—we’ve already, of course, tried them fried, in pasta, in frittatas, on pizza, yet we never thought to add them to a simple quesadilla. With their delicate flavor and nature, the squash blossoms melted ever-so-slightly into the pepper Jack cheese. I actually decided to use 8-inch whole wheat tortillas for this recipe instead of corn tortillas, but I think either would go very well with the spicy cheese and the fresh cilantro. I could also see adding sautéed yellow squash to this dish, just to accentuate the squash flavor from the blossoms themselves–or substituting basil for the cilantro for a different feel). The cooking time and recipe instructions were right on–just 1 minute per side is all you need to melt the cheese and warm everything through.
I really zeroed in on this squash blossom quesadillas recipe when I saw a way to use squash blossoms that did NOT involve stuffing or frying them. All my previous attempts at stuffing squash blossoms with ricotta, chevre, herbed cheese mixtures, etc., yielded no winners. I always seemed to tear the flower or fail to seal it, so I ended up with a tasty but leaky, sad, messy result. So I usually just sighed when I saw beautiful blossoms at the farmers’ market.
But this approach is a game changer. It keeps all the fresh and delicate flavor of the zucchini while not risking waterlogged squash slices. It’s a weeknight-friendly or even brunch-friendly recipe that you can riff on in so many ways. I made it twice, once using organic corn tortillas (about 5 inches) and the next morning using some sprouted corn tortillas (same size). Both yielded good results, though the sprouted ones were a little more brittle. It’s a vegetarian-friendly recipe that’s nice for entertaining. No extra heat really needed. Try not to forget the ground pepper because it does add to the complexity of the heat. The cilantro was very roughly chopped, and I was generous with it because I love cilantro.
Using a cast-iron skillet, I found that I could start one quesadilla, fold it over, and have (just enough) room for starting the next quesadilla. If you had a larger griddle, you could cook more at once. I had a warm serving dish in the oven, and the squash blossom quesadillas held very well. I could finish 6 quesadillas in 12 to 15 minutes. If a bit of the cheese falls out and crisps in the pan, consider that a tip for the cook. Don’t worry about cheese oozing out or the petals hitting the pan—a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is your friend and, as such, the ingredients won’t stick.
If your squash blossoms are really pretty and fresh, they may come with a fan club of tiny ants. Don’t despair if you have to resort to gently rinsing the squash blossoms with water to remove all the creatures. As long as you blot the blossoms as dry as possible, you’ll be fine.
If you had a bumper crop of blossoms from your garden, you could make little street-taco size ones using just one blossom or smallish ones—a great party item and you could set up an outdoor station and use your pan on the grill.
I’m thrilled to finally have a way to enjoy squash blossoms—this has all the hints of zucchini in a lovely form, and who doesn’t love melted cheese and toasted corn flavors? My testers praised them for their “minimal manipulation of the ingredients.” Just like that, squash blossoms are back on the market list!
In late spring and early summer, our local farmers’ market has piles of zucchini blossoms. I’ve bought and fried them after coating them in a tempura-style batter, and they’re extremely tasty and very addictive. However, they can be a bit of a bother to make. I now have something far easier to do with the blossoms. These squash blossom quesadillas are quick and simple to make. They’re also delicious. I used 6-inch corn tortillas. The amounts of ingredients as given made for nicely filled quesadillas. There was enough cheese that it oozed out slightly and made some pretty browned wisps of melted cheese around the edges of the tortilla. I may try putting a third squash blossom in each quesadilla the next time I make them, as I would like the flavor of the zucchini blossom to be a bit more pronounced. The recipe states that it makes 6 quesadillas. However, it gives no indication as to how many people that will feed. We found these very easy to eat. I would count on having 2 squash blossom quesadillas per person, unless, of course, this is the only thing you are feeding them. In that case, you may need to make quite a few more. These come together in a matter of just a few minutes, so as long as you have a pile of each of the ingredients, you can keep cranking them out. They would be fun to make with folks standing around helping out. Almost instant gratification.
With this squash blossom quesadillas recipe, I now have another way to use the many blossoms that come from my garden each summer. Together with a small side salad, they made a lovely lunch. The recipe will yield 6 quesadillas, which can serve 2 to 3 guests. Six-inch corn tortillas are just the right size for the amount of cheese and 2 squash blossoms. My cilantro hasn’t gone to seed yet, so I used fresh cilantro leaves and stems. The pepper Jack cheese gave just the right amount of heat to the quesadillas.
This squash blossom quesadillas recipe is super easy and a tasty way to introduce zucchini blossoms to the unsure or those put off by the idea of eating flowers. In fact, it would be a fun dish for kids to prep, as they can tear the cilantro leaves (instead of using a knife to chop them), and for mom or dad to finish the quesadillas on the stove or even on a not-too-hot grill. Since I’m cooking for only moi these days, I quartered the recipe and used 8-inch soft corn tortillas. The squash blossoms from my farmers’ market are the 3-inch or so variety, so using the smaller tortillas made sense. Allow enough time to rinse the sandiness from the bunch of cilantro and wrap it in a paper towel to dry. By doing that first, then assembling the rest of the ingredients, the cilantro leaves were dry enough to easily chop when I needed to. I warmed the pan while I was examining the blossoms for dirt or bugs, shredding about a half cup pepper Jack cheese, and trimming the flowers of their thick stems. I used a heavy-ish nonstick omelet and crêpe pan that worked just fine. I then chopped the cilantro. Assembly and heating go pretty fast after warming the tortilla. In fact, the cheese melts almost before you add the cilantro, ground pepper, and blossoms. A full minute on each side was almost too long, as the delicate petals sticking out of the folded-over, omelet-like tortilla started to singe and harden. When they start to overcook, the tortillas can also harden, so carefully watch them and the petals. Have your sides ready before starting these squash blossom quesadillas, as they cook up faster than you think they will. I served them with a lime juice- and celery-flavored celery root and carrot slaw. Not too shabby.
I only take issue with one of the author’s remarks about how the recipe should taste: “a note of heat from the pepper Jack.” For me, it was more like a full raucous chord of throat- and stomach-searing fire from the jalapeños in the Jack cheese. I realize we’re living in an era in which Sriracha, fried jalapeños, and peppery cheese are stacked on even chili-filled burgers from White Castle, but anything that masks the flavor of a main ingredient makes me ask, “What for?” To me, the cheese overpowered the lightly nutty taste of the blossoms. I’ll make them again tonight, but with mostly white Cheddar, a bit of the pepper Jack, leftover roasted chicken, and avocado slices. Will let you all know how that goes!
Usually when I can find squash blossoms, I stuff them with cheese, but I’m glad I saw this recipe and tried something different. This is a wonderful use of the beautiful blooms. While the spiciness of the pepper-flecked cheese and grassiness of the cilantro are more potent than the delicate taste of the squash blossoms, they all work together well. The blossoms are somehow assertive in their own way and certainly add to the visual appeal of the quesadillas. The tortillas I had were 6 inches in diameter and were a perfect size for this recipe. While I usually prefer flour tortillas for quesadillas, the texture and flavor of corn fits here.
Originally published August 12, 2017