In the smallest state in the country in a small town named Pawtucket (don’t you dare pronounce it PAW-tucket, it’s P’tucket), there’s a small restaurant called Garden Grille. On the menu at Garden Grille there is an inconspicuous looking little item: the butternut squash quesadilla. As anyone who has ever ordered the quesadilla can tell you, that tasty treat will take you as close to heaven as a vegetarian Mexican-inspired menu item can. Crispy tortilla filled with creamy avocado, smooth butternut squash, black beans and, of course, cheesy goodness. About halfway through you have to make an important choice: do you eat yourself into a food coma, savoring the crunchy, creamy quesadilla, or do you take half home to enjoy for lunch the next day. It’s an important choice, and not one to be made lightly.
Having (temporarily?) left the small state of Rhode Island I’ve found myself craving that butternut squash quesadilla like no other. So naturally I set out to recreate the meal I so badly wanted. I feel the need to include the disclaimer that due to limited funds and poor planning I didn’t make them exactly the way the master chefs at Garden Grille do. Jack cheese just isn’t versatile enough for me to buy it for one recipe, so I got a shredded jack and cheddar combo. I forgot to get an avocado, and made do without. In its place I included some red onion since that was pretty much all I had. But alterations aside, it still turned out to be a pretty tasty meal. Plus it put me oh so on trend with the whole “meatless monday” deal, and made me feel very autumnal.
Started out with some butternut squash.
Roasted the butternut squash.
Cried while chopping onions. Put the onions on the stove as punishment for making me cry.
Beans, meet onions. Onions, meet beans. And have you met my friend butternut squash?
It’s not mexican food without tortillas and cheese cheese cheese.
I usually make my quesadillas on the stove, but I put these ones in the oven and I was glad I did since it made much less of a mess (no flipping and trying to keep the squash inside the tortilla while also trying not to burn my fingers).
Sadly, quesadillas aren’t exactly beautiful at the end, and don’t make for great pictures. They are, however, delicious with a little bit of salsa. If you’re a sour cream kind of person, by all means add some of that too. Perhaps some avocado as well. Get wacky.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, and now I’m pretty sure I’m going to devote myself to recreating the entirety of the Garden Grille menu. Korean Tacos, I’ve got my eye on you.
Butternut Squash Quesadillas
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed (all amounts are flexible–add as much or as little as you want)
- Olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3/4 red onion, chopped
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 6 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, either Mexican blend, cheddar or jack
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place squash on a pan and coat with 1 Tbs of olive oil. Season to taste with salt. Roast the squash 45 mins to an hour, depending on the size of your cubed squash, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and onions, cooking until the onions are cooked, 3-5 minutes. If using red pepper flakes add these as well, to taste. Add the beans & butternut squash, and cook until heated through, stirring.
Brush three of the tortillas with oil and place them on a baking sheet. Top each tortilla with the squash mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese, dividing evenly between them. Top each with another tortilla and brush that with olive oil. Put those babies in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes, until the tortillas are golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
Like I said, I didn’t have avocado on hand, but if you want to include it just slice the avocado and add it on to the tortillas just before you sprinkle them with cheese. You’ll probably need to press down on the top tortillas a little to make them into one coherent, stuck-together quesadilla.