I love to eat squash blossoms and when I don’t have time to make my favorite squash blossom recipe, I use them to make squash blossom quesadillas. Fresh squash blossoms are fried with onions and garlic to make a delicious vegetarian filling for quesadillas. This is a quick, light dish that uses seasonal produce when it is at its peak!
How to select squash blossoms
For those of you not familiar with squash blossoms, below are a couple of pointers on what to look for when buying squash blossoms or how to harvest your own. I cover these points in my stuffed-squash blossom fritters in red sauce post, so if you have read that, feel free to skip ahead!
Buying squash blossoms
Here in central Mexico, squash blossoms are in season late summer and early fall. It is easy to source these at the market or from street-side vendors who set up little stands dedicated to selling these flowers. However, squash blossoms may be a bit trickier to source in the US. I have sometimes seen them available at farmer’s markets. When I buy these, I look for larger flowers, with the petals still intact. This will help to keep your filling inside during the frying process. Squash blossoms tend to wilt quickly, therefore, I like to use them the same day that I purchase them. I have found that they don’t keep well for long, making it essential to prepare and eat these fresh.
Harvesting squash blossoms
Now, if you have your own vegetable garden with summer squash, sourcing squash blossoms is pretty straightforward. I don’t have a vegetable garden of my own, but Diana Kennedy in her book El Arte de la Cocina Mexicana suggests harvesting these in the early morning, when the flowers are open and at their most fragrant. You will only want to cut the male blossoms since the female ones will eventually produce squash if pollinated. But leave some of the male blossoms to continue their job as pollinators. This is a beautiful and delicious way to use some of the male blossoms from your garden. So how do you know which blossoms are males and which are females? This article from Science of Cooking explains the difference between a male and female zucchini squash blossom. The easiest way to tell the male from female blossoms is to look inside the flower. The male blossoms have a single stamen inside the center of the flower.
How to make squash blossom quesadillas
Preparing the squash blossoms
Once you have selected the squash blossoms that you are going to use, you will need to prepare them for cooking. For these quesadillas, I first trim the stems, leaving only about 1 inch attached to the blossom. Then I remove the small spikes from the bottom of the chalice (see photo below). Next, gently open the blossoms, rinse with cold water inside and out, and give them a little shake to remove the excess water. I then set them aside to dry a bit while I prepare my other ingredients. Once the blossoms are dry, I chop them into small pieces. Now they are ready for cooking!
Making the squash blossom filling
These quesadillas are so simple to put together once the blossoms are ready to cook! Start by heating oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onion and fry until the onion just begins to turn translucent. You don’t want to brown the onion or garlic for this dish. Once the onion is translucent, reduce the heat, add in the squash blossoms, give them a stir and cover them. See how much liquid is in the pan in the first photo below? The squash blossoms will release liquid once they start to cook. I let these cook covered until the chalice is easily pierced with a fork. I like to check these occasionally while they cook to ensure that the pan isn’t running too dry. If needed, you could add a bit of water. Once the chalices are tender, remove the lid and, if necessary, cook off any excess liquid. You will want the filling to be moist, but not overly wet or dry (see second photo below). Add salt to taste, stir, and remove from the heat.
Putting it all together
Once the blossoms are cooked, you are ready to put everything together to make some delicious squash blossom quesadillas!
Heat a comal or skillet over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla (or 2, if you have enough room) on the hot skillet and warm one side for about 30-60 seconds. Flip the tortilla over and add 1/4 of the shredded cheese to half of the tortilla. Top the cheese with 1/4 of the squash blossom mixture and fold the empty tortilla half over the top. Cook until the cheese melts, flipping occasionally to allow both sides of the tortilla to brown or warm evenly.
Once the cheese is melted, divide these evenly between 2 plates. Serve immediately with your favorite salsa!
Adapted from Diana Kennedy, El Arte de la Cocina Mexicana
Squash Blossom Quesadillas
- 3 tbs vegetable oil I use safflower
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped ~55g or 2 ounces
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ~35 squash blossoms (~390g or ~14 ounces) Blossoms need to be prepared by trimming stems to 1 inch, removing spikes from chalice, rinsing and drying.
- Salt to taste
- 4 corn tortillas about 6 inches in diameter
- ~3 ounces shredded Oaxacan cheese ~97g, you could substitute with an un-aged Monterrey Jack if needed
- Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes
- Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally. You want the onion to just start to turn translucent, avoid allowing the onion or garlic to brown, about 1-2 minutes
- Add the squash blossoms, stir to mix with the onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Allow the blossoms to cook until the chalices are tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 10 minutes
- Uncover and allow any excess liquid to cook off, if any remains in the pan. You want the filling to be moist, but not overly wet.
- Stir in salt to taste and remove from the heat
- Heat a comal or skillet over medium high heat
- Place a tortilla on the comal and heat on one side until warmed through, about 30-60 seconds
- Flip the tortilla and place 1/4 of the cheese on half of the tortilla and 1/4 of the squash blossoms on top of the cheese. Fold the empty side of the tortilla over the filling.
- Heat until the cheese is melted, flipping over halfway through cooking, about 2 1/2 minutes per side.
- Serve immediately