When you’re a fledgling small-town vegetarian, like I once was, sometimes you don’t see all the options.

You wind up eating a lot of pasta, cheese pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches and confusing waitress by ordering cheeseburgers without the burger.

And then one day, you realize that it’s not just about avoiding meat – hopefully before you lose your teeth and die of constipation.

And then you go forth and start trying vegetable-loaded recipes, like these Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas. I still love them, especially in the summer, when you can pick up corn and zucchini dirt cheap.

The filling is a simple sauté – onion, garlic, zucchini, corn and your herb of choice. I usually use cilantro, but if you hate-hate-hate it, go with what you love or just leave it out. When the filling is ready, spoon it onto half of your tortillas, add some grated Pepper Jack, and place your remaining tortillas on top. Then slide them into the oven.

These quesadillas are a great lunch alternative to your typical sandwich, but you could also slice them into smaller wedges to serve as cookout appetizers (when the grilling is taking a little longer than expected) or serve them alongside a summer soup, like Fresh Tomato and Sweet Chili Pepper or a really fresh gazpacho.

So much better than a chili dog, without the chili or the dog.

Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas

Adapted from “Everyday Food”

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 4 flour tortillas (8-inch)
  • 2 cups grated Pepper Jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute more.
  2. Add zucchini and frozen corn kernels, cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and corn is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro, if using.
  3. Brush one side of all tortillas with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; lay 2 tortillas, oiled side down, on a baking sheet. Place half of the filling on each, and sprinkle with half the cheese. Place remaining 2 tortillas on top, oiled side up; press down gently with spatula to seal.
  4. Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. To serve, slice each quesadilla into wedges.

Nutritional Info (Per Serving) – calories: 558.6, fat: 35g, carbs: 44.8, fiber: 3.3g, protein: 19g, PP+ = 15