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Great Recipes Stemming from Bad Misunderstandings, Part 1

March 6, 2011

I often ask my friend Manuel what to make for dinner. We’ll be on the phone talking about work projects or talking about nothing, and I’ll ask what they’re having, or if he’s tried anything good recently.

Recently he told me that he’d been “stewing down squash with corn and zucchini.” He was going to add some salsa and some sour cream and make tacos or quesadillas with cheddar.

A few days later I was shopping with little inspiration and decided I’d try the stewed veggie taco thing myself. I snagged some corn. Then I looked around and remembered that “squash” is like “snow” for Eskimos, except the opposite: we call everything squash: summer, butternut acorn, spaghetti. Summer and winter squashes seem to have more differences than similarities.

I grabbed my phone out of my pocket to call Manuel but it died before I could dial.

Summer squash seemed like it could be watery, but he did say stewed. Hmm. I grabbed a butternut, since it’s winter.

My trick for approaching winter squashes is to cook them on 350 for about 20 minutes, and then chop them in half, and then peel them with a Y-shaped peeler.

I then chop the denuded squash the rest of the way.

For this recipe, which was nothing more than a loose concept, I cooked half of the chunks in canola oil with some ginger and when it was slightly caramelized on certain edges and getting soft all over, I added some corn and some sliched zucchini. After those were “stewing down,” I  added a little sour cream, salt, and salsa at the end. We had crunchy greasy salt corn tortilla quesadillas with cheddar, and the squash filling. I served it with avocado and cilantro and salad and beans and some delicious Mexican rice, which is also Manuel’s recipe. Wow, were they popular. Hearty and tasty and filling and wintry and great. They were pretty much the perfect Sunday night meal.

Maybe a week later, on the phone again with Manuel, I mentioned that I’d tried the squash taco filling to make quesadillas, and that these quesadillas were a big hit. I told him I wasn’t sure which sort of squash to use and had chosen a butternut.

“Oh,” he said. “No. It’s summer squash.”

No matter, we’ve now invented an excellent thing to eat in our house. It’s now our most favorite kind of filling for quesadillas. Usually I use a box of frozen spinach instead of zucchini: I’ve abandoned the summer squash-type-of-thing concept altogether. It being Sunday night, and us having vegetarians for houseguests, we’ll likely try them again tonight.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2011 4:47 pm

    Sounds delicious.
    I never would have thought of this.
    I’ll have to give it a try.

  2. Jen permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:54 am

    Sounds delish Mere. I’d love to get Manuel’s Mexican rice recipe…

  3. March 18, 2011 11:36 am


    Have you heard of spaghetti tacos? Basically, you take tacos and put spaghetti with sauce in them. My kids are obsessed, although that might have more to do with the fact that they eat them on iCarly than that my kids actually like the taste.

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