Zucchini and Banana Pepper Quesadillas

This summer I am featuring some of my favorite garden produce recipes. For the entire list, see the Recipes page or click on the recipes label.

When I first saw this recipe posted as a part of Minnesota Locavore's Eat Local Challenge, I knew I had to try it.  One: these quesadillas looked amazing.  Two: it's always a good thing to find something new to do with zucchini.  Three: anything that can justify the consumption of cheese by means of a veggie benefit is also a good thing.  And four: it was a banana pepper quesadilla (because really, you had me at banana pepper). 

Aside from the the fact that there is almost always a jar of hot banana pepper rings in my refrigerator, my love for banana peppers is perhaps best expressed by my purchase of a six pack of banana pepper plants.  I kept two of the notoriously prolific producers for my garden, and my brother planted the other four in "borrowed" space in his garden (side note, I am planning to give canning some pepper rings a try this summer.  I've been consulting Google a bit, but I haven't found the one yet, so if you know of a tried and true recipe for canning banana pepper rings, please let me know!).

When the first peppers were ready to pick last week, I was pretty excited. And luckily, the stars aligned and not only did I have ripe banana peppers, but also a perfect-sized zucchini, and all the key ingredients for the first batch of fresh garden salsa (roma tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos and chile peppers) all at once. It was a delicious fiesta of summer awesomeness.  Too much? Okay, it was really, really, really good.  The only thing that could possibly make this meal better is serve it on the deck on a perfect summer night and top it off a cold beer.  This is what summer garden eating is all about! 

Zucchini and Banana Pepper Quesadillas
1 Tablespoon butter (olive oil works, too)
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped.
2 small red onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup banana pepper, finely chopped
4 cup zucchini, finely chopped
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
Flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a blend of monterrey jack and cheddar)

Melt butter and add garlic, onions and pepper, saute over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until tender.  Add zucchini and seasonings, cover and steam for 4-5 minutes until zucchini is tender, but still a little crunchy (don't cook it so long it gets mushy, but don't under cook it, either).  Remove from heat.

Place tortillas on a flat skillet over low heat.  Assemble quessadillas with approximately 1/4 cup vegetable mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.  Heat 2-3 minutes per side, or until tortillas are browned to taste and cheese is melted. 

Serve with fresh salsa or your favorite taco fixings.

Recipe adapted from Minnesota Locavore

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