Roasted Butternut Squash Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Crispy Sage
The above statement is obviously exclaimed in horror rather than excitement, because as far as I’m concerned, football is just a bunch of dudes chasing each other on a lawn, and unless Beyoncé comes out at some point, I have zero interest in observing the mayhem.
As some of you may know, I did actively try to like football for a brief (and random) period circa 2011. Since I very much enjoy beer, Tom Brady, and Victor Cruz’s salsa dancing, I figured maybe I could get on board with other aspects of the sport as well. I had every intention of learning the rules (and some choice lingo to drop at parties) and even toyed with the idea of starting my own fantasy league. I was going to be a football fan, dammit!
Unfortunately, my plans to hop on the bandwagon didn’t really pan out. Marathoning all five seasons of Friday Night Lights only confirmed what I already knew: Football sucks unless Tim Riggins is playing it. (And even then, it still kind of sucks.)
Also, did you know you have to pay to join a fantasy league? Ridiculous.
While I’ve grown comfortable in my anti-football stance, it does complicate my fall social life. My roommate and many of my friends insist on hosting gatherings to celebrate the sport, and in order to avoid becoming a shut-in, I’m forced to participate in the festivities. As I’m not one to pout in the corner of a weird football party, I’ve learned to cope the only way I know how…fancy finger food.
Enter: Roasted Butternut Squash Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Crispy Sage.
In case you share my distaste for football, these ‘dillas will save you this season, friends. Packed with caramelized squash, fried sage leaves, tangy goat cheese and creamy Fontina, they’re a touchdown for your taste buds (sorry), and they basically scream FALL. Plus, they happen to be much lighter than your average fan food, leaving you plenty of extra room for the necessary booze. Thank God.
If you’re thinking that these quesadillas look far too fabulous and complicated for game-day fare (thank you!), you’re wrong. The recipe can be made from start to finish in half an hour, is easily scaled for a crowd, and it can be fully prepped in advance and then cooked à la minute. And remember, football is infinitely more bearable when melted cheese and compliments are involved. Get after it, team.
p.s. I’m aware that some of you reading this may love football. Good for you! You should still make the quesadillas.
4 cups cubed butternut squash
3½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
20 leaves fresh sage
4 medium whole-wheat tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 1/3 cups grated creamy Fontina cheese (If you can’t get your hands on Fontina, I’ve also had great success with Mozzarella and Gruyère.)
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Place the cubed butternut squash on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons olive oil, and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and a good pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the squash is tender and lightly browned. Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash with a fork. (A light mashing will do, friends. Texture is a good thing.)
While your squash is in the oven, fry up some sage leaves. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the sage leaves in batches and cook for 3-5 seconds until crisp. Place the fried sage leaves on a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Set aside until ready to use.
Now it’s time to build these bad boys. To assemble each quesadilla: Spread a quarter of the mashed butternut squash onto one half of the tortilla and sprinkle with 1 ounce goat cheese. Crumble 5 fried sage leaves over the goat cheese and top with 1/3 cup grated Fontina. Fold the empty tortilla half over the toppings to close.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add two quesadillas to the pan. (If the pan is too small you’ll have to cook one at a time. Duh.) Cook for about 3 minutes on each side until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are lightly browned and crispy. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas.
Let the quesadillas cool on a cutting board for a few minutes, then slice each one into 3 slices with a very sharp knife. Serve immediately and bask in the glory of melted cheese and compliments.
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