You've waited so long. Here it is! This filling shows up in the empanadas I historically make to impress people at parties. (I've only ever used this recipe from Epicurious for my empanada dough and see no need to mess with it - what with 51 reviews and 100% of reviewers saying they'd make it again, why would I?) It ended up inside some quesadillas we made at a Summer Squash class a few weeks ago sort of randomly. I'd decided to make the menu entirely vegetarian, had all the ingredients on hand for some variation or other of this, and on a whim cooked and mashed it up before people arrived. Because it was thrown together on the spot, a recipe for this comfort-food-esque Mexican-spiced mish-mash of vegetables was not provided to those in attendance that night. I promised I'd post it on the blog within two weeks. It's been more like four, but it took me that long (and a visit (read: help) from my sister-in-law) to get it made in my own kitchen again and documented in a blogworthy manner. The flavors and aromas of this remind me of the Colombian stew called sancocho. There are many suggestions and substitutions in the recipe below, included not to complicate things but merely to prove that this recipe is endlessly adaptable. I mean, really, it's just glorified mashed potatoes. But really really really yummy mashed potatoes that are great in a quesadilla. (Also vegan and gluten-free.)
Now here are NINE pictures to entice you.
Farmer's Market Vegetarian Empanada/Quesadilla Filling
Yield: about 3-4 cups; enough for at least a dozen empanadas or quesadillas; easily doubled
1.5 lbs potatoes (or sweet potatoes - keep reading!), scrubbed and cut into a 1/2" dice (all or a portion of this could be sweet potatoes or yuca; up to half the mixture could be plantains or winter squash, but I've never gone beyond that and am not sure how it would hold up texturally if it were 100% either of those - all of them add a nice sweetness and creaminess)
1 purple onion (or any onion, but purple is pretty), chopped*
1 red bell pepper or spicy pepper of choice, chopped**
1 zucchini, summer squash, or carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
2 tablespoons Mexican or taco seasoning***
1 teaspoon salt (use less if Mexican or taco seasoning has salt in it)
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Cover potatoes with water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to boil on stove. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until v. tender. Drain and put in a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally so garlic doesn't burn, until onion is softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Add ginger if using, lime zest, and spices and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Turn off heat and pour in half the lime juice. This will deglaze the pan and make it easy to scrape up any bits of toasted spices that might have stuck to the pan.
Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with potatoes and mash everything together as best you can. Taste and add salt, more Mexican spices, and/or the remaining lime juice to your liking. Enjoy!
* I think I mean "finely chopped" here. So don't be lazy.
** You could use a hot pepper too. The three pictured above look hot but aren't, and they are small so that's why there are three versus the one mentioned in recipe. The salsa we served alongside the quesadillas was fairly spicy, so I wanted the mixture to be mild.
*** Instead of Mexican or taco seasoning, you could use (and I did in version pictured): 2 teaspoons cumin (whole or ground) + 2 teaspoons ground coriander (if you have it) + 2 teaspoons chili powder + dash or more of cayenne and/or black pepper.