Sublime, buttery, cheesy and over-the-top delicious. We're talking about Butternut Squash and Spinach Quesadillas.
I was intrigued by the Pioneer Woman's Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas recipe. A squash-filled flour tortilla would be in keeping with for our weekly Tex-Mex Tuesday tradition, yet was the perfect fall twist. (And, I'm always looking for ways to keep our Tuesday menu fresh and new.)
I switched out the kale for spinach and left off the chili powder (otherwise, I would have to eat ALL of the quesadillas at our house.) So, I can't speak to the deliciousness of the original recipe, although I'm sure it is awesome. But, these buttery fried tortillas filled with sauteed butternut squash, spinach and mozzarella cheese (or a vegan substitute for my darling daughter) are divine.
I absolutely adore the Pioneer Woman's step by step commentary. But, I do have a few tips to add to for my version that may make the preparation of this sensational squash dish a little easier...and less messy.
The longest part of this process is peeling and dicing the squash. It will take a few extra cuts of the knife, but I highly recommend cutting the squash in cubes that are smaller than 1 inch, like a half inch. The smaller the cubes, the quicker they cook and the final product is less bulky. A lot less of the filling falls out when the cubes are small too. Ergo...less mess.
Note that you can peel and dice the squash up to 2 days ahead of time.
Saute the diced butternut squash, about 4 cups, in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of butter over medium-high heat. The squash is done when it is "just about" fork tender. (Start checking the squash at about 5-7 minutes.) By the way, "just about" is my technical term to indicate that you still want the squash to be a little firm because it's going to cook a little longer when you add the spinach.
When the squash is just about done, add the spinach. By the way, I love how raw baby spinach overwhelms the pan when you add it and then in a blink of the eye (or about 2-3 minutes later,) the spinach wilts down and is perfectly proportioned to the squash.
To assemble the butternut squash and spinach quesadillas, butter one side of a flour tortilla and lay the butter side down in a hot pan. Top the tortilla with about 1/2 cup of butternut squash and spinach and then sprinkle about 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan substitute) over the top. Butter a second flour tortilla and plop it on top. When the cheese begins to melt and the bottom is just a little toasty, flip the quesadilla over and toast the other side.
This leads me to my second big tip. Small 6 inch round flour tortillas are much easier to flip than larger tortillas, unless you have a really large spatula. 🙂
Also, by using smaller tortillas, everyone will get two. And two is always better than one. Right? I made 8 small quesadillas in total.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Quesadillas
- 4 cups butternut squash peel and diced into small 1/2 inch size cubes
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
- 16 six inch flour tortillas or 8-12 eight inch ones whole wheat
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- Heat olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter over medium-high heat.
- Add butternut squash and saute for about 5-7 minutes or until squash is just about fork tender.
- Add spinach leaves and saute for about 3 minutes more or until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat.
To assemble each quesadilla
- Butter one side of the tortilla and place it butter-side down in a clean pan that has been heated over medium heat.
- Spread about 1/2 cup of butternut squash and spinach mixture over the tortilla.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cheese over the top of the squash and spinach.
- Butter one side of a second tortilla and place it, butter-side up on top of the cheese.
- When the bottom layer is toasty and the cheese has begun to melt (about 1-2 minutes), flip the tortilla over and toast the other side.
- Remove from pan and repeat process to make the rest of the quesadillas.
- Cut quesadillas into triangles using a pizza cutter.