Summer in California means an over abundance of produce! I literally go crazy with all the produce at the farmer’s market, and I definitely tend to overbuy fruits and vegetables, more than we can have in a week’s time! My eyes light up with all the gorgeous bounty at the market. With COVID-19 guidelines, we cannot access the produce ourselves now, so we have to stand in a line, wait for our turn one by one, and have the vendor help us when it is our turn. That means it takes me longer to get all my produce, and get back home than it normally would. But inspite of all the perils, and being careful around people, I cannot help myself from visiting the market, just to see all the beautiful colors around, and get stuff for the week. It is my happy place, it gives me joy, and you are supporting small businesses in the interim which is fantastic. Growing up in Mumbai, this is how we shopped, I would go with mummy, to the market, every third day to pick up fresh produce for the next couple of days. It was fun, and I loved to watch my mom bargain with the vendors. All the vendors knew her, they would see her and they would give big smiles. She was known, she was warm, and she was very friendly and she had the best smile. Those were fun memories that I cannot etch from mine. I know she would have been very excited to see the California markets and see the bounty of produce in the markets.
My favorite produce that I love is the corn and zucchini. I actually planted 3 zucchini plants this year, and we have been enjoying the zucchini and the squash blossoms regularly. It is even sweeter when the produce is from your own backyard right?! The market though has tons of varieties of zucchinis as you can see below in the picture. The colors, outer skin textures, and the shapes, all are so fun to look at. The corn from this one vendor at the market is very sweet and I make it a point to get it on a weekly basis. We have a small grill in the backyard so we grill vegetables, corn, and sometimes paneer, and meats as well. I love the combination of the corn and zucchini together and it works beautifully as a pairing.
I had found the recipe for the Ancho Chile Paste from the Food Network website, ions ago, perhaps more than 10 years ago. I used to make it very often to make quesadillas. And then the last 2-3 years I forgot all about it! Kids and all! Blame it all on the kids lol. It resurfaced this year, as I was cleaning the pantry and realized I have 5 bags of dried chile lying in the pantry! I had the pasilla dried chile, ancho chile and the guajillo chile as well. 3 packets were from our trip to Mexico in 2018 I think! I know! What was I doing with dried chiles from 2 years ago?! LOL Anyways. I decided to make the ancho chile paste, and use it to make these quesadillas. The chiles are readily available at any grocery store now a days in the International or Mexican isle. And you get all the different varieties as well. Do not forget to get the Oaxaca cheese as well, the melty Mexican cheese, which is seriously the BEST. The brand name is Cacique, and has amazing products like Mexican sour cream called crema, which is absolutely delicious by the way, and other Mexican cheeses like Panela, Cojita etc. When you get really good ingredients, that are authentic, you can take the dish to the next level, and make it so tasty that you want to make it again and again.
ANCHO CHILE PASTE:
CHIPOTLE ROASTED TOMATO SALSA:
I make a chipotle roasted tomato salsa which is absolutely delicious and you can find the recipe of the Chipotle Roasted Tomato Salsa here. It has so much flavor, and I always have a container of this salsa sitting in my refrigerator. It stays upto 2 weeks, but it does not last that long in my house. We love having this salsa with the chips as well, or drizzled on top of tacos, or with these quesadillas.
I make a corn and zucchini ribbon mixture by cooking it in a bit of butter and olive oil. Cooking time is literally a few minutes. You want it to soften but still have a bite to it. he quesadillas are very easy to assemble. Basically you spread a bit of the ancho chile paste. Then add some of the Oaxaca cheese, add the corn-zucchini mixture on one half of the quesadilla, add the squash blossoms and cover with the other half. Flip the quesadilla and cook for another 30 seconds! And voila! You have a beautiful charred, cheesey, summery quesadilla ready for you! Enjoy it with some margaritas and you are set!
If you do make this recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment here on this blog post! Appreciate you all so much!
Take care, be healthy and wear a mask!
Ancho Chile Quesadillas with Summer Zucchini, Buttered Corn and Squash Blossoms
- Ancho Chile Paste:
- 5-6 dried ancho chiles
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- Corn and zucchini mixture:
- Corn kernels off 2 corn on the cob
- 2 zucchinis thinly sliced vertically (using a mandolin on a the thin setting is best)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 10-12 flour tortillas
- 2 cups Oaxaca cheese or pepper jack cheese
- 12 squash blossoms
- Oil or cooking spray to grill the quesadilla
- Chipotle Roasted Tomato Salsa
- Ancho Chile Paste:
- In a medium skillet, on medium to high heat, add in the dried ancho chiles. Let them heat up for 2 minutes. Turn them around, to heat up the other side. You will start smelling the smokey and spicy chiles. Roast the dried chiles for 5-7 minutes in total.
- Meanwhile, set a pot of boiling water on the side. Add in the dried chiles in the pot of boiling water, close the lid and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the chiles from the water. Using gloves, de-seed the chiles if you do not like the mixture to be spicy. It will have a lot of flavor even if you remove the seeds. For de-seeding, slit the chiles, using a spoon remove the seeds from the middle of the chile. Now add the de-seeded chiles to a high speed blender. Add in ½ cup of the reserved water from the chiles, and the salt. Add in the garlic cloves, and extra virgin olive oil as well. Now blend on the highest setting, until it forms a smooth paste.
- Store in an airtight container for upto a month.
- Corn and Zucchini mixture:
- In a large skillet, on medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once melted, add in the corn and saute for 2-3 minutes. They will plump up ever so slightly. Now add in the zucchini ribbons in the mixture. Add in the salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder, garlic powder and mix to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes. Mixture is ready.
- Assembly of the quesadilla:
- On a grill pan, on medium to high heat, add in a tad bit oil, about 1-2 tsp for each quesadilla. Spread about 1 tbsp of the ancho chile paste evenly on the tortilla. Now add approximately ¼ cup of the corn and zucchini mixture on one half of each quesadilla, spread it such that it is somewhat flat. Add a squash blossom, torn into rough pieces on the top. Cover the other half of the tortilla on top of the veggies. Press gently with a flat spatula such that the cheese oozes out a bit. Flip the quesadilla and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove it off the grill pan onto a plate. Let it cool for a minute and then using a pizza cutter, cut into 4 triangles. Repeat for the other quesadillas.
- Serve with the Chipotle Roasted Tomato Salsa!
- 1. The ancho chile paste will stay in the fridge for upto 3 months if it lasts that long! It has natural preservatives like olive oil, and salt so it stays for long. Make it over the weekend and enjoy quesadillas as a quick weeknight dinner.
- 2. The Chipotle Roasted Tomato Salsa can be made on the weekends too. It can be stored in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.