Sunday, February 6, 2011
Squash! Squash? Squash! Quesadillas!
I'm trying to write something witty about this recipe, but all I can think about is this great old Billy Bragg album (Workers Playtime) that I've been listening to all weekend. I first started loving Billy Bragg when I was in high school, and I even went to see him play at The Concert Hall in Toronto, a place which could have been awarded the "Venue Where Small Teenage Music Fans Are Most Likely To Get Crushed To Death" award. It was just a big open room and in the 90's moshing was a big new fun thing to do. I was a skinny, bespectacled, somewhat nervous girl, and as much as I liked going to shows there, I was always mildly terrified as well. It didn't help that all shows were general admission, which meant that us crazy, devoted teenagers would get in line outside at 3:30 PM and wait in the cold for several hours in order to get prime spots at the front of the stage. Now when I go to a show I make a beeline for the balcony and try to find a place to sit where I can still see the band. How times have changed.
Teenage me never cooked and didn't care that much about food. I actually ate the same lunch- a peanut butter and honey sandwich on white bread, one red delicious apple, and two granola bars- every single day for three years in a row. I think teenage me would be shocked to know that I grew up to love healthy food and love cooking. I'd actually like to go back in time and feed teenage me some exciting vegan food. I'd also tell her to learn to cook. As soon as possible.
These butternut squash quesadillas are a good example of food that is amazingly easy to cook, very nourishing, and not boring at all. They are modeled on a wonderful dish we had a Gracias Madre when we were in San Francisco. I used whole wheat tortillas for mine, but they could be easily done with corn tortillas, too. The soft, sweet squash is a really great filling for the tortillas and the pumpkin seeds add a crunchy texture. The whole dish is vastly superior to any yawn-inducing cheese+salsa quesadilla I've ever had. I think even teenage me would have liked it.
Butternut Squash Quesadillas
1 small or (1/2 a large) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
5 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2/3 cup black beans
tortillas of your choosing (we used 6 small whole wheat tortillas)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
vegan sour cream-type thing (I used the Cashew Crema recipe from Viva Vegan, it was perfect! But you could use any recipe you like, or use a store-bought product)
a pinch of chili powder
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss squash cubes with 3 tbsp of olive oil, then arrange them in a glass baking pan and bake for 45 minutes.
While the squash is baking, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly, and then reduce the heat to low. Leave mixture cooking for an additional five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should start to turn a light brown colour and be very soft.
When the squash is done, place it in a bowl with the onion and garlic mixture, and use a potato masher or large fork to smush it all until it has a very smooth consistency. Stir in black beans.
Heat tortillas in oven until they are soft (not brittle!) then spread squash mixture over one tortilla and cover it with another.
Cut in halves or quarters and top with cilantro, pumpkin seeds, sour "cream" and then sprinkle a bit of chili powder over the whole plate. Eat with salsa or hot sauce, if you are so inclined.
Makes 5 or 6 quesadillas (using two tortillas for each one).
Eat To The Beat: Billy Bragg - She's Got a New Spell