Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Zucchini Quesadillas

Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Zucchini Quesadillas A strong case of seasonal nostalgia sits in these warmer days and long, sun-lingering evenings. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about summers growing up at my childhood home. There are, of course, lots of paths I could take down memory lane, but one thing that strikes me most right now, is that we always had people over. 

When I was in high school, my parents best friend couple from up the road would come down for dinner and drinks almost every weekend. We’d all play rugged cross-country croquet in the sprawling weed-strewn yard, we’d all play cards, we’d all visit and joke and gossip, we’d all go for after-dinner walks. There was always wine and there were blender cocktails, and there was always, ALWAYS enough to eat. My dad would often make his legendary chicken on the charcoal grill, there would be salads and sides and chips and salsa, appearing out of nowhere. I don’t even think there were always invites. I think folks just showed up, knowing there would be food and friends. 

I can’t even imagine swinging by one of my friends’ houses unannounced (and vice versa, the horror of an uninvited guest!), especially just before dinner time. Am I doing it wrong, this whole adult thing? There we were, in the middle of nowhere, our nearest friends miles away up winding, wooded country roads, and yet, we always had friends around. Now I live in the city, surrounded by people, and we live such solitary, isolated lives. Everyone is so busy, everyone has such full calendars. Dinner parties are extravaganzas with long planning emails or text chains and everyone is booked three weekends out but might be free this Tuesday for one hour or maybe in four Wednesdays from now. We all have to pencil each other in, among getting together with the so-and-sos, the work friends, the people down the street, the date nights, the me-time nights, the friends from out of town, the college friends, the favorite-tv-show nights, the husbands’ friends, the kids and babies, etc. 

Maybe living in the city there are just too many people and there’s just too much to do (and too much fomo) to maintain the show-up-every-weekend kind of friendships my parents had. Perhaps it was born out of the seclusion of where we lived. Or maybe what they had back then was unique. I don’t know, but as the weather heats up, I’m finding myself yearning for easy pop-in dinners and long, lazy evenings with friends. 
Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Zucchini Quesadillas
On to zucchini quesadillas! My mom used to make these all the time. The recipe these are based on was published in Martha Stewart in 2003, the year I graduated high school, so it totally makes sense that these were in heavy rotation at the time, the era of the bff drop in. Mel could use up our garden’s abundance of zucchini, and because they were baked two at a time in the oven (Whoa! That blew our cast-iron-skillet-quesadilla-making minds back then), it was easy to feed an inevitable crowd. She would actually double it and make four giant quesadillas (a half dilla easily fed one person, so I just make them folded in half). I also don’t ever remember there being corn in the ones we made back then. I’m not sure if that was simply because we used what we had on hand, or because my mom chose to leave it out, but I still make them without corn, and I've cut back considerably on the oil. 

If this summer is anything like last summer, I’ll have a lot of zucchini in my little garden box to work through. Hoping to work through it (along with working through my unannounced-visit-anxiety) with good friends.  

Zucchini Quesadillas 
Makes 4 half-quesadillas
Adapted from this recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion (or 1 small onion)
(roughly chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic
2 medium-large zucchini
(halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
(I use Mission Gluten Free flour tortillas) 
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Sour cream and hot sauce to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and zucchini, and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and tender (but not mushy) another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and add cilantro.

Brush one side of all tortillas with remaining oil. With oil-side-out, fill half of a tortilla with a layer of filling and a layer of cheese, and fold in half. Repeat with remaining tortillas so that you have four half-quesadillas (this makes them much easier to flip). Arrange on a baking sheet.

Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once (carefully), about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. To serve, slice each quesadilla into wedges.

Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, and remaining cilantro. 

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