This morning I went on a walk down Linz’s main drag. As I was walking, I simultaneously realized two things. First of all, it had been almost six days since the last time I had wandered down the Landstraße. This is an impressive feat as it is only about a minute away from my apartment by foot. Secondly, the skyline (can I call it that?) seemed different. Busier. About every forty feet were strings of lights, stretching from one side of the street to the other.
Linz has slowly been preparing for the holiday season. Heiße Maroni (roasted chestnut) and gebrannte Mandeln (candied almond) stands have been open since the end of September. They’ve been setting up the Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) since the end of October. Now the lights are up as well, in preparation for the opening of the Christmas markets this weekend.
Though Linz is now almost fully in gear for the holiday season, I won’t be thinking of Christmas until after Thanksgiving, which I will be celebrating here in Austria. Probably twice. Neither will be like Thanksgiving in Maryland with the family, but I never expect anything to be as it is with them.
So, Reader, what I mean to say is that while the world around me gets ready for winter, I’m still clinging to fall. In the form of butternut squash. Unless something goes horribly wrong with my plan for Saturday’s post, my next three posts will all feature butternut squash, which is my favorite kind of squash.
To start off, I bring you Butternut Squash, Gouda, and Spinach Quesadillas. I love the flavor combination here: slightly sweet from the squash, earthy from the spinach, and creamy from the cheese. They’re aesthetically pleasing, as well, with the bright orange and green complementing each other.
This was a totally new way for me to cook squash. Usually I go old-school and just quarter my squash before roasting it with brown sugar and butter. Chopping it small and sauteing it on the stove definitely saves time. I think breaking down the squash takes just as long as cooking it.
Note: this is another “practically recipe-less” recipe. Quesadillas can have as much or as little filling as the chef decides, which is why my measurements aren’t exact.
Butternut Squash, Gouda, and Spinach Quesadillas
Slightly adapted from The Dinner Mom
- 3 cups butternut squash diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1/2 of a medium squash)
- 1/2 T olive oil
- 1/2 T butter
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- fresh spinach (about 6 oz)
- Gouda, sliced or shredded (if shredded, 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
- Flour tortillas (honestly, I didn’t make the whole batch but I think it should make 9 quesadillas using 8-inch tortillas)
Saute the squash: Place butter and olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add diced squash, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until “fork tender” (i.e. until you can easily pierce a piece of squash with a fork) over medium heat. This should take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your squash cubes, the size of the pan, and the temperature of your stove.
Wilt the spinach: Remove the squash from your pan and set aside. In the same pan (no need to add any more oil or butter unless you are seriously afraid of sticking), add your spinach. Cook over medium heat until wilted and bright green, about 2-3 minutes.
Make the quesadillas: Using a clean frying pan (flat, if you have it) layer about 1/4 cup of squash with as much spinach and cheese as you see fit onto one half of a tortilla. Fold the other half over (as in the above photographs). This makes it easier to flip the tortillas. When the cheese begins to melt, flip the tortilla. Using the back of your spatula, press gently on the tortilla to squish the squash a little. When the cheese is all melted and the tortilla is warmed, your quesadilla is done! Repeat as necessary.
P.S. I started writing this post while on my walk, and I didn’t want to forget my ideas. I didn’t have a notebook with me, so I wrote them down on a receipt…that’s dedication.