Like all good recipes this one came about in a moment of desperation on a Sunday afternoon when a random set of leftovers and refrigerator bits and pieces became a brilliant lunch idea.
I became fairly obsessed with zucchini and yellow squashes this summer, which meant that there was often a roasted piece or two hanging about. Since I also had handful of flour tortillas and it occurred to me why do quesadillas have to contain Tex Mex flavors? Why shouldn’t a tortilla capture all sorts of other ingredients?
From there I reasoned since zucchini is incredible paired with basil, and in a bit of a nod to salsa, I should add some of the pesto I made earlier in the week. I also shredded the remaining roast chicken, added a few crumbles of farmer’s cheese for salty tang and we were in business.
Obviously, or we wouldn’t be talking about it, the combination was delicious and thus the vaguely Italian quesadilla was born. Now it gets top billing, an intentional recipe, not an afterthought at all.
Summer Squash & Pesto Quesadillas (serves: 4)
3 medium zucchini or summer squash
2 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
4 flour tortillas
4 ounces farmer’s cheese or goat cheese
4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh basil leaves
ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast skin-side up for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, remove the stem from the zucchini and slice lengthwise into 1/8” strips. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes on each side until tender and lightly browned. Remove to a plate.
While the zucchini roasts, make a quick pesto. Finely chop the basil leaves and place in a small bowl. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred into large pieces.
Place the tortillas on the baking sheet then divide the cheeses, chicken, zucchini, and dollops of pesto among them layering on one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half over the top to create a half moon shape. Bake for 5-6 minutes until the cheeses have melted. Slice in half into triangles and serve immediately!
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a rimmed baking sheet, chef's knife, small cutting board, small bowl, pastry brush, cheese grater, flat spatula, and aluminum foil.