CRAVE: Seasonal produce makes spring dishes sing

Cooking using colorful ingredients like squash blossoms or nettles creates dishes with powerful flavors as well.

Sometimes the joy of food can get lost in the nuances of nutrition. Over the past few years, a lot of information has come out on the value of phytonutrients in colorful vegetables and fruit.

The fact is that all colorful food straight from nature is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients–and focusing on eating a variety of colors is more fun than researching the phytonutrient content of every vegetable we intend to eat. If we let color guide our choices, we can trust that we’re eating well.

Squash blossom and green coriander quesadillas only have five ingredients. While the squash blossoms and fresh coriander seeds may be tricky to find outside of a farmers market or garden, they’re worth hunting down.

Like all edible flowers, squash blossom tastes like a softer version of its vegetal offspring. Each bite of the quesadilla offers something different: a delicate zucchini flavor, a pop of bright coriander seeds, or a note of heat from the spicy cheese. If you grow any variety of summer squash, you can pluck male flowers from the vine. Substitute coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves if you can’t find fresh coriander.

This story adapted with permission from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink.

Squash Blossom and Green Coriander Quesadillas

Yields 6 quesadillas


12 squash blossoms

6 whole-grain corn tortillas

1 1⁄2 cups coarsely shredded pepper jack cheese

1 tablespoon fresh, green coriander seeds (or cilantro leaves)

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Inspect squash blossoms and remove dirt or small bugs. The blossoms are delicate, so don’t wash them. Some people remove stamens, but it’s not necessary.

2. Warm a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place tortillas in warm pan and heat each side, about 15 seconds. Sprinkle about 1⁄4 cup cheese, 1⁄2 teaspoon coriander seeds and black pepper on 1⁄2 of each tortilla. Place 2 squash blossoms on top of cheese, flower petals peeking out slightly. Fold tortilla in 1⁄2 and press down lightly with a spatula. Cook about 1 minute, then flip and cook 1 minute more, until cheese has melted. Transfer to a towel-lined plate and make remaining quesadillas. Serve warm.

Whole Fava Beans with Lemon and Shallots

Serves 4


1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound small fava beans in pods

1⁄4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)

2 to 3 thin lemon slices, quartered

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Freshly ground black pepper


1. In a small bowl, toss shallots, vinegar and salt. Set aside, tossing occasionally.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add about 1⁄2 the fava beans in a single layer–you’ll likely have to work in batches. Fry without disturbing until skin begins to blister and char, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip beans and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, removing as they char. The pods will pop as steam builds inside–a few may burst, so be careful. Remove to a wide serving dish. Repeat with remaining beans.

3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and red pepper flakes to shallot marinade.

4. Toss beans with dressing and lemon slices. Finish with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.