Robin Asbell's vegan quesadillas and cranberry-jicama salsa make the season bright [RECIPE]

Robin Asbell, cooking instructor, culinary advisor to the Whole Grains Council, and author of Big Vegan: More Than 350 Recipes, No Meat/No Dairy, All Delicious, will be appearing at the Kitchen in the Market (in Midtown Global Market) on December 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. The author will be signing books, giving a short cooking demonstration, and handing out samples of her innovative vegan dishes. Asbell's latest cookbook has recipes for every meal, including Griddled Oat Polenta with Smoky Maple-Tempeh "Bacon" for breakfast, Seitan Burgundy Stew with Parsnips for a hearty lunch, and Red Lentil Masala Burgers with Curry Ketchup for dinner. The Hot Dish caught up with the multitalented Minneapolis resident and got her to share a recipe for a holiday party appetizer she calls "seasonal, colorful, and fun." It also makes good use of the leftover bag of cranberries you might still have in your fridge from Thanksgiving.

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa 
(Serves 4)

Winter squash and holiday cranberries take on a slightly south-of-the-border pose as they collaborate in this quesadilla. The crunchy cranberry is a completely different berry once you take away all that sugar and give it some room to salsa!

2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup chopped red onion
1 red jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 cup diced jícama 
¼ cup fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh mint
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped shallot
3 cups mashed roasted winter squash 
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
8 8-in whole wheat tortilla

1. To make the salsa: In a food processor, chop the cranberries coarsely. Add the onion and jalapeño and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scrape out the mixture into a medium bowl, and stir in the jícama, cilantro, mint, sugar, salt, and cumin. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.
2. To make the quesadillas: In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until they are soft and golden, for at least 5 minutes, or longer if you have time. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the squash, hazelnuts, chili powder, and salt. Lay out 4 tortillas and scoop 3/4 cup of the squash mixture on each one. Spread it evenly, then top with another tortilla and press lightly to adhere. 
3. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over high heat. When it is hot, place a quesadilla in the pan and cook until the bottom is toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip it, then cook the other side just until it is toasted. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and use a chef's knife to cut it in 6 wedges. Continue cooking until all the quesadillas are done, then serve them with the salsa.

You can find more information about all of Robin's cookbooks and events at
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Midtown Global Market

920 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55407


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