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.