Main Ingredient: Summer

July 15, 2008

Today’s recipe is essentially this: take some summer, slip it between two tortillas, toss in some cheese to meld it all together, and give the whole thing a spin on the grill. In this case, “summer” is grilled sweet corn kernels, strands of zucchini, and wisps of basil. The meld-y cheese, or “glue” if you will, is shredded monterey jack and smears of goat cheese. Topped off with the grill’s pretty criss-cross imprint and accompanied by the last of our roasted tomato salsa and a dollop of sour cream, it was a lovely starter to dinner with Kevin’s sister, Abby, on Sunday night. Dinner, I should note, was eaten on the deck in the glow of the sunset and the dusk of an absolutely perfect day. Yes, these are definitely summer quesadillas.

The end result is one of the best new flavor combinations I’ve stumbled upon this summer. I could see the same zucchini-corn-goat cheese-and-basil components tossed with salad greens, atop crostini as a midsummer bruschetta, or stirred into quinoa or farro, along with a simple vinaigrette. I have Bobby Flay to thank for the ingredient combination; I got them from a quesadilla recipe in his Mesa Grill Cookbook. I couldn’t get the recipe out of my head, even after returning the cookbook to the library. So I did my best to recreate it and, boy, am I glad for it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

The comments to my recent chocolate-zucchini bread post made it clear that many of you either have or anticipate a bumper crop of zucchini this summer. Those comments confirmed what I remember from my childhood visits to my grandparents’ house, where the backyard garden produced zucchini after zucchini, and some amusing passages from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which Barbara Kingsolver recounts tales of zucchinis coming out of her ears. Well, almost. So, if you find yourself in this rather enviable position, I’m telling you: just add corn, goat cheese and basil. You’ll eat your way through your zucchini harvest before you know it.

Zucchini-Corn Quesadilla with Goat Cheese & Basil
Adapted significantly from a recipe in Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook

Quantity: 1 6-inch quesadilla (8 small wedges); serves 2-3 as an appetizer

2 6-inch flour, corn or whole-wheat tortillas
1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 ounce goat cheese
1 ear of grilled corn, kernels shaved off the cob
1/2 cup zucchini, shredded or julienned (I used the grater insert in the food processor)
1 tablespoon basil, julienned
1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper or crushed chile flakes

Prepare a grill or grill pan. On one tortilla, spread half the monterey jack cheese. In successive layers on top of the cheese, layer the corn kernels, zucchini and basil. Dot the goat cheese on top of the basil. Spread the remaining monterey jack cheese on top of the goat cheese, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cover with the remaining tortilla, pressing slightly (the goat cheese will help “seal” the top and bottom tortillas).

Carefully transfer the quesadilla to the grill. Grill three minutes per side. For criss-crossing grill marks, rotate the quesadilla 90 degrees, halfway through each side’s grill time.


20 Responses to “Main Ingredient: Summer”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    Yummy! What a great idea for using zucchini. I was planning on making quesadillas this week, but hadn’t decided what fillings to use. I think the zucchini we got in our share will be just the thing! Btw, is that cookbook good? I’ve looked at it before… –Amy

  2. Kymber Says:

    Yum! Can’t wait to make this.

  3. Kari Says:

    Great grill marks! 🙂

  4. brilynn Says:

    I would love some summer on the grill! Now if only the grill could fit in my apartment…

  5. Aggie Says:

    What a great combination! I’ll admit, I’m not crazy about zucchini, but when it’s cooked with other stuff I can like it! I will definately try it this way.

    I have that cookbook too!

  6. Becky Says:

    yum. sweet corn and zucchini isn’t a combo i normally think of but it sounds really delicious – especially with cheese. your photos makes it seem even more appetizing. nice!

  7. This looks so delicious that I can’t wait to make this. Love the combination of flavours! Bookmarking this one.

  8. Paula Says:

    Oh man, does that look good! What a great way to use zucchini! Now I’m really hungry!

  9. grace Says:

    reason #284 i wish i could have a grill. looks delicious. 🙂

  10. Amy: The cookbook has some great eye candy, but it’s not exactly an everyday tome. The recipes are all pretty complicated: tons of ingredients, lots of steps/sauces/etc (which I suppose should be expected as it’s a restaurant cookbook). But there was some good inspiration in it.

    Kymber: I told you there’d be more zucchini recipes coming! And we’re actually making this tonight: another zucchini use for you.

    Kari: Thank you. I’m a sucker for them.

    Bryilynn: Do you have a grill pan? If so, these worked really well on the grill pan too. Maybe even better, because you don’t have to worry about the ingredients spilling out and falling through the grates.

    Aggie: I hope you do try it! If so, let us know what you think.

    Becky: Yes, cheese makes everything better, doesn’t it?

    js: Thank you!

    Paula: Thanks!

    grace: See my comment to Brilynn above. No grill necessary!

  11. Brynn Says:

    yum. I’m a sucker for quesadillas – and I love the somewhat “untraditional” versions like this one (and hooray for zucchini by the way). We made some quesadillas last summer with brie and peaches. wow wow wow. You’ve got to try it.

  12. Haley Says:

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks 🙂


  13. Brynn: May I remind you that I live merely several blocks away? Keep that in mind next time you make these brie and peach quesadillas. Please?

  14. Kevin Says:

    Those quesadillas look nice and summery and good!

  15. […] 19, 2008, 1:00 pm Filed under: The Kitchen Sink | Tags: grillin’ and chillin’, me so corny, summa’ Quesadillas with all of summer’s favorite […]

  16. Cindy Ruth Says:

    These look wonderful! In my fridge I have corn, zucchini, goat cheese. Guess I’ll be making a quick trip to the store to get some Monterey Jack and tortillas, because I’ve got to make these tonight. Yum!

  17. Cindy Ruth: Don’t forget the basil! Hope you enjoy these.

  18. Katie B. Says:

    I made these for lunch today – delicious!

  19. Katie B.: I’m so glad you liked them!

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