Food & dining

The confident cook

Serve roasted butternut and cheese quesadillas with pickled jalapeno salsa

Roasted butternut quesadillas with pickled jalapeno salsa
Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe
Roasted butternut quesadillas with pickled jalapeno salsa

Quesadillas, the Mexican version of grilled cheese sandwiches, have a lot to offer. Tortillas stand in for bread, and cheese possibilities include Monterey Jack, cheddar, gouda, or any other soft melting cheese. After that, the fun begins. Add leftover vegetables, chicken, steak, or pork, canned refried beans for more substance, or roast vegetables you have on hand. Squash and pumpkin have always been important in Mexican cooking, so it makes perfect sense to roast chunks of chile-spiced butternut and tuck them into tortillas.

Tortillas right out of the package are undercooked and need to be heated and lightly browned in a hot, dry skillet to bring out their best flavor. Put one in the pan, add squash and cheese, then top with another tortilla to make a sandwich. For a sauce, stir your own better-than-store-bought salsa with nacho-style pickled jalapenos from a jar mixed with fire-roasted tomatoes. Add a fresh twist with lime juice, avocados, and cilantro. Your quick, easy, vegetarian supper will leave you satisfied.

Roasted butternut quesadillas with pickled jalapeno salsa

Serves 4


1can (15 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into small cubes
2tablespoons finely chopped onion
2tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2tablespoons chopped nacho-style pickled jalapenos in a jar, or to taste
1tablespoon brine from the jar of pickled jalapenos, or more to taste
2tablespoons lime juice
Salt, to taste


1. In a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, avocado, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, jalapeno brine, and lime juice.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

2. Add salt, taste for seasoning, and more jalapenos or brine, if you like.


½large (1½ pounds) peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
2tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1teaspoon ancho chile powder
8(8-inch) flour or corn tortillas
cups (6 ounces) grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
3scallions, chopped
½cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2tablespoons chopped nacho-style pickled jalapenos in a jar, or more to taste

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees.

2. On a rimmed baking sheet, mound the squash in the center. Sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper, and chile powder. Toss to coat the squash with the oil and spices. Spread on the baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and golden.


3. Set a large dry, heavy skillet over medium heat and heat until hot. Place 1 tortilla in the skillet. Spread ¼ of the squash on top and sprinkle with ¼ of the Monterey Jack or cheddar. Top with scallions, cilantro, and jalapenos. Place a second tortilla on top.

4. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt, checking the bottom by lifting one edge the tortilla with a spatula to make sure it does not burn (adjust heat, if necessary). Press gently and flip the quesadilla over in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds more, or until the cheese melts. Transfer to a plate, cut into quarters, and serve with salsa.

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at