Mini Crab and Bacon Quesadillas with Sweet Corn Guacamole
The summer after I graduated from college, my friend Lara and I road tripped through the Pacific Northwest. Armed with our best going out tops, time-release Xanax (for my newly acquired panic disorder), and the very mature goal of making our way to Forks, Washington, for the Twilight Tour, we rented a car and set out on what was sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.
(I promise to share tales of chasing vampires with disgruntled tweens at some point, but for now, please withhold your judgment/jealousy.)
The first stop on our itinerary was Seattle, where we had booked a room at an adorable boutique hotel near the famous Pike Place Market. Upon check-in, Lara and I did the standard hotel room dance—don bathrobes, roll around on the bed, and assess the room service offerings. We found the latter rather impressive and were instantly drawn to the same standout item on the breakfast menu, a fancy lump crab and avocado omelet with Gruyere. For whatever reason, Lara and I were very enthused about this omelet situation and agreed we absolutely had to order it the next morning before getting back on the road.
Later that day, we contacted the only person we knew in Seattle, our friend Sean, who kindly invited us to dinner at his parents’ house. After a delightful family meal, his mother drove us to a dive bar downtown to meet some of Sean’s friends for drinks. (Keep in mind we were 22 at the time, so having a mom chauffeur wasn’t that strange.) As she pulled away, Mrs. Whitsitt rolled down the window and called out, “Be safe, girls! Whatever you do, do NOT drink the Hurricanes.”
I’m so sorry, Mrs. Whitsitt. We should have listened.
Apparently, the Hurricane was that particular bar’s specialty cocktail. And despite his mother’s warning, when Sean asked us what we wanted to drink, both Lara and I requested one. We were intrigued. Plus, everyone else was drinking them, so how dangerous could they be? Being the gentleman that he is, Sean offered to get us a single Hurricane to split, cautioning us that the drink regularly “knocked out guys twice our size.” But Lara and I were proud alcoholics women with high tolerances and assured him that we could each handle our own.
Fun Fact: We could not.
I won’t go into the details of what happened after we downed our cocktails, but let’s just say that Lara was accused of biting a stranger, and I may or may not have puked on Sean’s shoes. (Bad, Selena.)
As you can imagine, the morning after was excruciating, yet we were still strangely committed to that crab and avocado omelet. So we had it delivered to our bedside. I managed three bites before realizing the obvious—crab was a bad choice. Those three bites in post-Hurricane hell were enough to make me swear off the crustacean. And not just temporarily, friends. I didn’t touch anything crabby for YEARS. So sad, but so true.
However, I’m pleased to report that I’m finally back on the crab! I’ve been slowly reintroducing it to my diet in the form of crab cakes for a while, but it was these Mini Crab and Bacon Quesadillas with Sweet Corn Guacamole that got me over the hump for good.
I’d forgotten just how magical lump crabmeat could be, and its succulent sweetness really shines in this highly textured, perfectly cheesy quesadilla. (Succulent is a creepy word. Sorry.) Crispy thick-cut bacon is crab’s savory bff, and a combo of Old Bay, fresh basil, Dijon and Greek yogurt provides just the right amount of spice, brightness, and creamy tang. It’s tempting to eat this delightful filling with a spoon, but once folded inside a grilled corn tortilla with melted Gruyere, the stuff becomes straight up delicious insanity. And that’s before you top it with sweet corn guacamole.
Jesus, Maria, y Joseph, people. The guacamole!
Even if you don’t make these quesadillas (no judgment), you need this sweet corn guac in your life ASAP. It’s great for upgrading Monday salads and basic burrito bowls, and I highly recommend slathering shameless amounts of it on everything from toast (duh) to burgers. The epic pops of crunchy sweet corn kernels in this basil-laced dip are next-level, and the one-two punch of lemon and lime juices gives things a little extra zip. I love the addition of raw summer sweet corn—and I really think you’ll dig the fresh flavor—but if uncooked corn is a personal dealbreaker, feel free to grill your ear beforehand OR give the kernels a quick sauté in a little olive oil. I shouldn’t have to say it at this point, but…
You do you.
For the record, I created these badass bites with your late summer fiestas in mind. Not only are mini ‘dillas adorable (people never fail to go batshit over teeny-tiny food), but the recipe can also be completely prepped in advance. With the quesadillas assembled and the guacamole ready to go, you’ll only need 10 to 15 minutes (tops) to cook, slice, and dollop once your guests arrive. Very low-maintenance.
And just a heads up, these quesadillas pair verrrry nicely with the watermelon-basil margaritas I have coming your way next week. Just be sure to drink responsibly. I don’t want you over-imbibing and then swearing off crab. Or tequila. I’d never forgive myself…
Mini Crab and Bacon Quesadillas with Sweet Corn Guacamole: (Serves 8 as an appetizer)
4 slices thick-cut bacon
8 ounces lump crab meat
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon stone ground Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
8 small corn tortillas tortillas
For the Sweet Corn Guacamole:
2 ripe Haas avocados
½ lime, juiced
½ lemon, juiced
1 ear sweet corn, kernels removed
3 tablespoons minced yellow onion
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Fresh ground pepper
Preparing your Crab and Bacon Quesadillas with Sweet Corn Guacamole:
-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray a wire rack with no-stick cooking spray and place it on top of the prepared baking sheet. Place the bacon on the wire rack. (Note: The recipe only calls for 4 slices of bacon. There are 6 pictured because I tested these on a Sunday and I also wanted to make a bacon, egg and cheese. Apologies for any confusion.)
-Bake for 25-30 minutes until very brown and crisp. (Keep a close eye on them during the last 5 minutes, peeps. They burn quickly.) Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool, then chop into small pieces. Briefly set aside.
-While the bacon is cooking, whip up your guac. Scoop the flesh from the avocados into a medium bowl. Add the lime and lemon juices and a good pinch of kosher salt. Mash with a fork until relatively smooth.
-Stir in the sweet corn kernels, onion, and basil leaves. Taste and season with a little extra salt if necessary and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Press some plastic wrap onto the top of your guacamole and briefly set aside.
-In a mixing bowl combine the chopped bacon, crab meat, Old Bay, Dijon, Greek yogurt, and basil. Feel free to season with a little salt (be careful though, the bacon and cheese are salty) and fresh ground pepper if you like.
-Time to assemble your quesadillas. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 10 seconds to make them more pliable. Spread a heaping ¼ cup of the crab mixture on one half of each corn tortillas. Sprinkle each with ¼ cup of Gruyere. Fold the tortillas over to close each quesadilla.
-Pre-heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat. When it’s good and hot, add the quesadillas and cook for 2-3 minutes until grill marks appear. Carefully turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes on the second side until the cheese is melted. (Depending on the size of your grill pan, you’ll need to cook your quesadillas in a few batches.)
-Transfer the quesadillas to a cutting board, and slice each one into three triangles. Serve your ‘dillas topped with a dollop of sweet corn guacamole.
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