So far there are a lot of things I love about my new condo in San Diego, but the one thing that tops the list is my neighborhoods weekly farmers market, also known as the Little Italy Mercato! With more than 150 booths there is something for everyone, including many items I’ve never eaten before, much less cooked with… kind of like that escargot, but less scary!
This week I picked up some squash blossoms, chocolate bell peppers and quail eggs. While I’ve eaten squash blossoms and quail eggs before, I’ve never cooked with them and I’d never even heard of a chocolate bell pepper until this weekend! So what exactly is a chocolate bell pepper? It’s simply a hybrid bell pepper that spends 75 days turning from a green pepper into a chocolate-brown pepper. The taste is a little sweeter than a green bell pepper, but very slight.
Now comes the fun part, what am I going to make with these little “Mercato Treasures”? I went to my dungeon of happiness, also known as my refrigerator, to get some inspiration. Staring at me in the face was my favorite Trader Joe’s item of all time, Soy Chorizo. As my friend said at dinner that night “this is the first non-meat item I’ve eaten where I couldn’t tell the difference.” I think it’s better than most traditional chorizo’s and definitely better for you!
So with my obvious obsession of TJ’s Soy Chorizo, I immediately decided to add that in to the mix. I also wanted to incorporate those quail eggs on top so I knew I had to create something that was “open” i.e. not a taco, burrito etc. So I was thinking pizza because where does my mind go at least 50% of the time… you guessed it, pizza! But keeping with the Mexican theme, I decided to go with tostadas, they’re kind of like mini mexican pizzas after all!
- 1 tbsp avocado (or olive) oil
- 1 chocolate bell pepper (chopped)
- 1/2 onion (chopped)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 12 oz soy (or traditional) chorizo sausage
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 3 large flour tortillas
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese
- 9 fresh, local quail eggs
- 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
- 2 squash blossoms (chiffonaded)
Start by heating up the avocado oil in a large skillet. Add the bell pepper and onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic clove.
Next, add the chorizo, then top with the cumin and chili powder. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes to combine all the delicious flavors.
In the mean time, make your tostadas. Pre-heat the oven to 350° and use a 3 inch circle pastry cutter to cut 3 tostadas from each tortilla.
Place the tortilla circles on to a baking stone and into the oven for 10 minutes or until nice and crispy.
Remove from the oven and top with the bell pepper chorizo mixture and the cotija cheese.
Next, top with the green onions and chiffonade (fancy word for cutting herbs into long, thin strips) of squash blossoms.
Finally, poke a hole in the side of the quail egg, then slice it open. Remove the top half of the shell, then transfer the yoke back and forth between the shell halves while discarding the egg white (like you would do with a chicken egg).
Quail eggs are safe to eat raw without worry of salmonella because a quails body temperature is higher than a chickens which makes them resistant to infections and kills any harmful bacteria. The reason I say “fresh, local” quail eggs is because you are eating them raw. Do you really want to eat something raw that you don’t know where it came from or when it was laid? I think not!
Eating quail eggs raw gives you all the amazing nutritional benefits of the egg, rich in good cholesterol with no bad cholesterol, more protein than a chicken egg and over 100% Vitamin B1, just to name a few. It also acts as a “sauce” when you pour it out over the dish.
And voila, my Little Italy Mercato creation has come together!
Knock that little egg over to cover the chorizo in the “yolk sauce” and dig in!
♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian. Yay for soy chorizo!
♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute corn tortillas for flour tortillas to make this a gluten-free meal.