Wednesday, August 21, 2013

RECIPE: Use up all those squash blossoms Mexican style

One of my favorite restaurants in Puerto Vallarta is El Repollo Rojo, or The Red Cabbage. It’s owned by a friend of a friend named Lola Bravo, and she’s been in business in The Colonial Zone for a good long time. It’s a fabulously colorful place and just a short taxi ride from my friends’ condo in The Marina District. They offer truly great traditional Mexican cuisine from a spotless open kitchen on the roof. If you’re lucky enough to get invited upstairs, you’ll find the all-female kitchen staff dressed in starched whites that resemble nurses’ uniforms. How they stay so clean while cranking out the world’s best chiles rellenos (next to mine) is a mystery.

The ride itself is kind of interesting because you scoot around downtown by taking a tunnel through the mountains — a tunnel that has no ventilation, by the way, so the exhaust fumes from thousands of cars and busses make a nice toxic cloud that sits there all day. We hold our collective breaths on the way there, but could care less on the way home. Three or four margaritas can make you a little loco, no?

The Red Cabbage has a menu item called “Quesadillas Bravo.” In Mexico you can actually get canned squash blossoms, which she uses for this dish. You can find the canned blossoms in the states, at a good Mexican market, but since they’re in season now, why not so use the extra ones from your garden. If you visit The Oedipal Epicurean Facebook page, you can see some great photos of EL Repollo Rojo from a couple years ago.

Here is my take on her recipe.

Squash Blossom


(Serves 6)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small white onion roughly chopped

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded,

small dice

50 fresh squash blossoms

(or 2 cans drained),

finely chopped

¼ cup unsalted chicken stock

16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese,


6 good quality flour tortillas

Sauté the onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, hold each squash blossom firmly and twist the stem to remove, leaving the petals and the tender parts. Repeat until all the flowers are de-stemmed and then rinse them to remove any insects. When the onions are soft, add the diced jalapenos and continue to cook for around 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently. Toss in the squash blossoms and a little salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Sauté for another 5-10 minutes, until the blossoms are soft, and then add a little salt and pepper and the chicken stock. Cook the vegetable mixture until it is dry and set it aside. Heat a griddle, comal or cast iron skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Add a flour tortilla and spoon on some of the vegetable mixture, spreading it out over ½ of the tortilla. Add a generous amount of cheese and fold the tortilla in half, pressing it down with a spatula. Heat it for a couple minutes and then flip it over, continuing to cook until the cheese is melted. Remove it to a hot plate and repeat the process. Serve your quesadillas with some good quality table salsa, sour cream and a cold beer.

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