Friday, January 14, 2011

Kale and Onion Quesadillas

Pictured left is a perfectly perfect Romanesco cauliflower from our pickup today, courtesy Weiser Family Farms.

Quesadillas are one of the easiest things you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I just love filling a flour tortilla with freshly scrambled eggs and grated cheese and frying it in a hot cast iron skillet (my substitute for a comal) until the tortilla is golden and slightly crisp and the cheese is oozing out the sides. Sometimes I add crisp, crumbled bacon or sauteed red onion, or mushrooms and peppers - whatever is fresh and in season.

For lunch and dinner, I usually skip the eggs and turn to savory vegetables. The combination of kale and onions is wonderful in a quesadilla. Slice the onion thinly lengthwise and saute it in a little oil until the onion is translucent. Chop the kale in thin slices and add it to the onions. Cook until soft. In the meantime, grate some jack cheese. You can use pepper jack if you'd like some spice, or try asadero cheese, which is a Mexican cheese available in most markets.

You can use flour or corn tortillas, but for this quesadilla, I prefer corn tortillas. If you have access to thicker, hand-made style tortillas, even better.

To cook the quesadillas: Heat a cast iron or heavy-duty skillet (or a comal, which is essentially a cast iron flat griddle pan) over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with a small amount of oil. Place a tortilla on the pan. Let it warm up for a moment. Then put some kale-onion mixture on the tortilla and sprinkle a generous amount (or to taste) of grated cheese on top. When the tortilla is soft, fold it over, being careful not to spill out the ingredients. Brown it on one side, then flip it over and brown it on the other. The cheese should be fully melted when the quesadilla is browned on both sides. If the tortilla is browning too quickly, then turn down the heat a bit.

You can make as many quesadillas at a time as your pan will hold. They're best served hot, but be careful to let the cheese cool down a bit before biting into it so you don't get burned.

Another wonderful addition to this basic recipe is potatoes and our Weiser Farms spuds are perfect for this dish. It's best for the potatoes to be slightly par-boiled before adding them to the skillet with the onions. And they should be diced no larger than 1/4 inch or thinly sliced. I really like seasoning them with a little smoked paprika, too. Make sure you cook the potatoes until they're nearly done before adding the kale to the pan.

Omnivores might enjoy adding some browned and crumbled sausage, too. Quesadillas offer endless possibilities for creativity so have some fun and enjoy this recipe. By the way, you can substitute chard for kale if you prefer.

A few words about cherimoyas: Don't cut into that cherimoya until it softens a bit. It should yield to slight pressure like an avocado when ripe. If you've never tasted a cherimoya, you're in for a treat. When ripe, this exotic fruit has a sweet and slightly tropical flavor. It best enjoyed sliced in half and scooped out (sans pits) or peeled, pitted and chopped in chunks. There are quite a few pits.

I like cherimoya best as is, but you can do a few things with it other than adding it to a fruit salad. Try it with yogurt and a little honey. Puree the peeled and pitted fruit and make a sorbet or use it in ice cream, add it to your favorite custard recipe, mix it into a smoothie or a cocktail, or use it as a base for a salad dressing. Slices or chunks of cherimoya can adorn a fruit tart along with other seasonal fruits.

This week's bounty included the following:

Either 1 butternut squash or a delicata and a Tuffy acorn squash
Either a bunch of yellow carrots or a bunch of red carrots
1 # parsnips
4# navel oranges or 1 cherimoya
1 bunch purple kale or 1 bunch chard
1 bunch Easter radishes or 1/2 # Jerusalem arichokes
1 red leaf lettuce or 1 bunch dandelion greens
1 bunch candy beets or a Romanesco cauliflower
lemons or herbs (cilantro and parsley)
1 # Russian banana potatoes
1 # satsuma tangerines or 2 black Hass avocados
1 # medium onions



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