Last weekend, we headed out to the Pumpkin-Palooza beer fest here in Los Angeles. While I’m not a huge lover of pumpkin and hops, it seemed like a good way to test drive about a dozen fall beers without a huge commitment to buying a bunch of booze you may not like once you got home. Dogfish Head Punkin’ was the most drinkable, Boston Beer’s malty Double Pumpkin was surprisingly rich and aromatic without being overpowering, and the Bruery’s Barrel Aged Autumn Maple continues to shine year after year. I personally fell in love with the New Belgium/Elysian collaboration Kick, a sour cranberry and pumpkin ale aged in oak barrels, the tart cranberry playing foil to the smokey wood and spices found in many fall beers. Lovely.

At Pumpkin-Palooza, they also had pumpkin snacks, one of which was a pumpkin quesadilla with feta and cilantro. Sadly, even with all of our beer drinking, the pumpkin quesadilla was the biggest disappointment of the afternoon. No heat, no barely a whisper of cilantro and mostly dry pumpkin between two tortillas. Since I’d made butternut squash quesadillas before, I immediately wanted to give these pumpkin quesadillas a whirl the next night for the Eagles-Cowboys game.

Glad I did, because this is my new favorite quesadilla. The meatiness of chopped pumpkin, the hint of heat from the jalapenos and chiles, sweet onion, and smokiness of the cumin with just a small crumble of mild cheese was a revelation on a cool fall evening. It didn’t feel heavy or greasy like a typical cheese-and-meat quesadilla, but you also didn’t feel like you were being cheated into eating something lighter. I can see this snack going into heavy rotation as we head into the holidays, especially as we start getting even more weeknight college football games and Thursday night football returns to the NFL.

You will need:

1 small sugar pumpkin, about 2-2.5 pounds
1 package of 10 flour tortillas
1/2 a medium onion
8-10 ounces of queso fresco, or other mild cheese such queso quesadilla or jack
1-2 jalapenos, to taste
1-2 4 oz cans of diced roasted chiles, to taste
2-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
1/2-1 teaspoon ground pepper (to taste)
2 limes, 1/2 of one for cooking, the remaining cut into wedges for serving

I used queso fresco because it melts without becoming stringy and greasy (and also because I needed to use up some cheese in the fridge). You could also use queso quesadilla or a mild jack cheese.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and slice in quarters. Cut off the the skin with a sharp knife as if you were removing the rind from a melon. Softer skinned pumpkins can be cleaned with a vegetable peeler. Roughly dice.

Remove the seeds from the jalapenos and finely dice. Drain chiles and chop the onions.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
Saute onions until they start to become soft and translucent.

Add the chopped pumpkin with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cover.

Cook the pumpkin until softened, stirring occasionally. Should take about 5-7 minutes to tenderize the pumpkin.

Leaving the lid on helps the pumpkin absorb both the steam from the onions and the cooking oil. If looks like the pan is getting too dry and the vegetables are sticking, add a touch more oil and some water.

Once softened, remove the cover and add the diced jalapeno, chiles, cumin, ground pepper and a pinch more salt. Cook a couple more minutes until the peppers starts to soften.

Taste for seasoning and stir in the juice of 1/2 of a lime, and remove from heat.

Lightly oil a skillet or flat-top grill plan and heat the pan over a medium flame.

Working quesadilla at a time, put a tortilla in the pan.

Crumble a small amount of the cheese on the tortilla, then add an even layer of the pumpkin mixture, then a small amount more of cheese. Be sure to leave about an inch from the edge of the tortilla, as they will shrink when heated.

Once the cheese has started to melt and the bottom of the tortilla is starting to toast, add another tortilla on the top and press down gently so it sticks to the melting cheese, then flip to toast the top tortilla.

Once cooked through, remove from the skillet.

Keep warm on an ovenproof plate or cookie sheet in a 250º oven while making the rest of the quesadillas.

Cut into wedges.

Serve with lime, salsa and Mexican crema or sour cream

Ravens week. Last year the Steelers lost the first game to the Ravens. The second time Pittsburgh played them, the Steelers won. In the playoffs, the Steelers won. First game against Baltimore this year, the Steelers lost.

What do the wins all have in common? I made Sriracha Fried Pickles and Spicy Peanut Butter Honey Fried Chicken Tenders for the games the Steelers won. Obviously in the name of statistical research, I will be making them again this weekend.

LSU-Bama for the college inclined, but that’s a game we’re going to have to catch on the DVR later in the week because it’s Penguins-Kings for us tomorrow night.

Fresh Pumpkin Quesadillas: Football Foodie Snacks
Print
Recipe type: snack, entree
Author: sarah sprague @ sarahsprague.com
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 5-7
Fresh pumpkin makes for a light, tasty quesadilla.
Ingredients
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin, about 2-2.5 pounds
  • 1 package of 10 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 a medium onion
  • 8-10 ounces of queso fresco, or other mild cheese such queso blanco, queso quesadilla or jack
  • 1-2 jalapenos, to taste
  • 1-2 4 oz cans of diced roasted chiles, to taste
  • 2-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided (to taste)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon ground pepper (to taste)
  • 2 limes, 1/2 of one for cooking, the remaining sliced into wedges for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and slice in quarters. Cut off the the skin with a sharp knife as if you were removing the rind from a melon. (Softer skinned pumpkins can be cleaned with a vegetable peeler.) Roughly dice.
  2. Dice half an onion. Remove the seeds and dice jalapenos. Drain chiles.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
  4. Saute onions until they start to become soft and translucent.
  5. Add the chopped pumpkin with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cover.
  6. Cook the pumpkin until softened, stirring occasionally. Should take about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Once softened, remove the cover and add the diced jalapeno, chiles, cumin, ground pepper and a pinch more salt.
  8. Cook a couple more minutes until the peppers starts to soften.
  9. Taste for seasoning and stir in the juice of 1/2 of a lime, and remove from heat.
  10. Lightly oil a skillet or flat-top grill plan and heat the pan over a medium flame.
  11. Working quesadilla at a time, put a tortilla in the pan.
  12. Crumble a small amount of the cheese on the tortilla, then add an even layer of the pumpkin mixture, then a small amount more of cheese. Be sure to leave about an inch from the edge of the tortilla as they will shrink when heated.
  13. Once the cheese has started to melt and the bottom of the tortilla is starting to toast, add another tortilla on the top.
  14. Press down gently so it sticks to the melting cheese and flip to toast the top tortilla.
  15. Once cooked through, remove from the skillet.
  16. Keep warm on an ovenproof plate or cookie sheet in a 250º oven while making the rest of the quesadillas.
  17. Repeat until all the quesadillas are made.
  18. Cut into wedges.
  19. Serve with lime, salsa and crema or sour cream
Notes

Can be made with 1 14 ounce can of canned pureed pumpkin in place of fresh chopped pumpkin.

 

 

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