Big Vegan: Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jicama Salsa

Big Vegan Squash Quesadillas

When fellow cooking teacher and cookbook author Robin Asbell asked me if I’d participate in the special online “potluck” release of her new book, Big Vegan, , I immediately said yes. I then got to choose a recipe from a well-prepared menu of items. I love winter squash so I chose the Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jicama Salsa.

I’ve known Robin for a number of years and like her work. Here is my recap of preparing the recipe. Read all the way down as I will be giving away a copy of Big Vegan on November 2nd. (See details below.)

I rarely make quesadillas for a couple of reasons: first, there isn’t any cheese-like product that I am willing to use regularly, even though I really like Daiya cheese (I call it vegan crack), and second, I generally avoid wheat tortillas and don’t care much for the brown rice type. Luckily, for this dish, I found the Sonoma teff tortillas which are gluten-free and tasty.

The ingredients in this recipe sounded so captivating and inviting that I just had to make them. So, I gathered all the ingredients and set out to follow the recipe  with the tortilla switch.

I baked the squash and toasted the hazelnuts in the morning so that they would be ready in the early evening when I was going to make the dish. This recipe obviously has 2 parts. I got the salsa together first and then cooked the shallot and combined it with the other ingredients including the chopped hazelnuts. Here it is spread onto the teff  tortilla.

I put the other tortilla on top and then slid the whole deal out onto a plate and then flipped it over. Unlike traditional quesadillas where the cheese is the “glue”, the tortillas don’t have anything to adhere to.

Here is the final quesadilla before being cut.


And here it is cut up and with the beautiful cranberry salsa.


The whole quesadilla with salsa was mighty tasty and good-looking although I realized that my tortillas might have been larger than 8-inches so eating a whole one was a bit too much for me to consume at once. It is definitely a generous portion. Also, my tortillas come 6 to package which is an even better reason to make only 3 quesadillas and eat less.

Here is the recipe (reprinted with permission, Chronicle Books):

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa
Serves 4
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/30 g 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/coriander, 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/180 ml 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.
If you’d like to win a copy of Big Vegan, post a comment below about why you would make this recipe and why you’d like to win the book. I will choose a winner the morning of November 2nd. So, don’t delay.
If you’d like to get an idea about other recipes in this book, see these blog posts on Robin’s website.
Here is the complete list of recipes that were part of the “potluck”:
My recipe from Big Vegan is but one of a baker’s dozen of recipes, cooked and shared with pix by bloggers around the country, on three consecutive Tuesdays. Here they are and you will love checking them out.
Robin Asbell
Susan Russo
Bryanna Clark Grogan
Nancie McDermott
Jill Nussinow
DAY 3:
Sandra Gutierrez
Robin Robertson
Julie Hasson
Pat Tanumihardja
Leinana Two Moons
Tara Desmond

To see Big Vegan author Robin Asbell cooking some of her Big Vegan creations in her own kitchen, click here;


  1. says

    I cannot wait to try this recipe! I am a Holistic Health Coach who is always looking for yummy vegan, whole food recipes. The second reason I am excited to try this recipe is that I grew some heirloom squash this summer (sweet potato squash). They are HUGE and I will be eating LOTS of different squash recipes in the near future as well as freezing some. I would be very excited to win this book!

  2. susan says

    i would love to win a copy of this book. i haven’t had a quesadilla and been able to find a recipe since going vegan last year. so i can’t wait to make this!

  3. says

    I would love to win this book because I love eating and cooking this way. New ideas keeps it fun. And what the heck is Daiya cheese? Thank you Jill for your delicious recipes!

  4. Andrea Nussinow says

    I am helping to spread the word about wonderful food. It makes me deserving of winning the book. Plus, I love you.
    “Raymond D Ricker”
    Thanks for posting on that vegan article…I’ve got to try that recipe for Cranberry / Jicama salsa!!

  5. says

    Gotta love squash. And as a dedicated cheesehead, I’d be willing to try squash as the filling and the glue for quesadillas. Maybe call then squashadillas. Love cranberries too, they deserve much wider use. Squash and cranberries are a fine fall combo. Like your idea to use teff tortillas. I do two teff tortillas on top of each other too. It prevents the tortillas from cracking when trying to fold them over. Would enjoy the book, and I might be presuaded to reduce dairy.

  6. says

    My husband and I have been thinking of becoming vegan, and I’m always looking for new inspiration to take the leap! This recipe looks fabulous. I like the added texture of the hazelnuts.

  7. Beth says

    This dish looks awesome, I love all kinds of winter squash, especially the kabocha (I can eat it for dessert). Thanks for the tip on gluten free-tortillas. Squashadillas – that’s a good name!

  8. says

    These quesadillas look delicious, colorful, and healthy! I can’t wait to try
    them to satisfy my taste buds and nourish my body. Thanks Jill!

  9. says

    Wow, this sounds amazing! I’ve never made quesadillas for myself because I usually find them uninspiring and I don’t like eating too much cheese…but these quesadillas are so interesting and different! I love squash and I love the sounds of that cranberry salsa too. If all the recipes in the cookbook are as good as this one, then I’d definitely like to win a copy!

  10. Joleca says

    My mouth is already watering..

    After reading your description and looking at those wonderful pictures, I can’t wait to make.. And I already have teff wraps (from La Tortilla Factory) in my fridge. Heading out to the store to get the rest of the ingredients I’m missing. I love the idea of using squash as a filling instead of cheese.. I try to stay away from dairy and these just sound amazing.. I can imagine all the rest of the recipes in the new book being as wonderful and truly hoping to win!

  11. Jen says

    YAY! Gluten free tortillas. I would love to make this recipe! I have celiacs and am always looking for a yummy VEGAN and GF quesadilla!

  12. Lisa Rice says

    This looks incredible! I have a kabocha squash in the kitchen – I think I can actually make this today! Am Hungry thinking about it! I love the versatility of squash – sweet, savory…baked, steamed, pressure-cooked, curried – and now an awesome substitution for cheese. Also, I love that this is a nutrient packed dish with the squash, hazelnuts, cranberries, jalapeno – you’ve got a complete meal! (well, I always like a green salad on the side too!). Thank you!!!

  13. Sharon says

    Jill, while I’ve had squash quesadillas before (and loved them), I’ve never had them with a salsa that I liked. The cranberry-jicama combo sounds divine, so I’ll definitely be giving this recipe a try. Also, I have to share that I am a carnivore who tried to go vegetarian on a few occasions, but just couldn’t quite stick with it full time. What I do know, however, is that I eat way, way too much meat. So to help break this cycle, I have begun to make it a goal to eat strictly vegetarian meals several days a week. I’ve also recently ventured more into the the vegan world, as I keep seeing many amazing recipes that look absolutely delicious, like this one. And, even though I am also a major cheesehead, it is nice to give my body a break and to try new, healthy things. I sincerely hope to incorporate more plant based meals into my diet. I do own several good Vegetarian cookbooks that I really enjoy cooking from, however, winning a Vegan cookbook will certainly help to give my diet more healthy variety. Thanks!

  14. says

    Wow that recipe looks amazing! Reading through the ingredients, pretty much everything is a whole food! So many different flavor combinations too! I would make this anytime for any occasion, I think it would be a huge hit! I have some squash in my garden just waiting for me to make this recipe! I would love to win this book because I think I would use it all of the time! I would love to spread the word about this amazing book on my blog too! Seems like everyone should have a copy! Thanks so much for the great giveaway! Hope I win!

  15. Cherie O says

    I would LOVE to not only make this recipe, but to win this book. I have eyed it in B&N several times and it is at the top of my wish list. Thank you. 😉

  16. Jeanne says

    This recipe looks sooo good. As a vegan, most people think we can’t have quesadillas, because it’s all about cheese. I would love to enjoy your cookbook. Thanks for the opportunity

  17. Ann says

    I am so happy I discovered you on Twitter, and it led me to your column. I too would LOVE to have your cookbook. Thank you!

  18. Nancy says

    love winter squash, love cranberries! Would love to win this book! This recipe looks amazing although I have a real problem finding healthy tortillas where I am!

  19. Minda says

    Ohhhhhh! This looks outstanding! The salsa alone is calling my name! What a great winter dish. And I would totally put this book to good use :)

  20. says

    Sounds yummy…squash, I love it! I am new to the vegetarian world and trying to eat vegan. My husband is a brain tumor survivor and thinks I am trying to kill him with healthy food! I want and need to find more fun, healthy recipes and I really need to win a copy of this book. Or, we could trade. I’ll buy the book and you can pay my medical bills. Just kidding, I am blessed to have come thru this experience with a newfound appreciation for good wholesome food and a new perspective on life. p.s. Thanks for the pics, I am finally learning to cook!

  21. says

    I never would have thought to combine these ingredients together (I have never tasted jicama to be honest) but I really want to after seeing your photos. This cookbook seems so international which definitely appeals to me. :)

  22. MikeC says

    Traditional fall flavors meet the Southwest, I love it and cannot wait to make these. I am always looking for new vegan recipes to try and would love to win this book.

  23. says

    Thank you for this post!

    I’d like to make this recipe because it can be a nice, quick and filling meal that’s a nice healthy alternative to the traditional quesadilla. Squash is so yummy too!

    I am a dietitian and I’m always looking for new cookbooks to help people eat more vegetables and make vegetarian and vegan cooking attractive (aka tasty and easy). Big Vegan looks like it can do just that!

  24. Jill, The Veggie Queen says

    Thank you all for your comments. it’s inspiring to hear from you.

    The winner has been chosen by random selection (thank goodness because I wouldn’t have been able to do it). It’s Kaycee of Vegan Machine.

    I hope that you’ll check back on this blog because there are big things upcoming with giveaways.

  25. moonsword says

    Thanks for sharing the recipe! I love jicama, but I’ve never used with cranberry…this looks like a delicious pairing! I’ve just discovered the potluck thread and am really enjoying the amazing range of recipes and flavors. I am definitely putting this book on my wish list. :)

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