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Huitlacoche quesadillas

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Huitlacoche quesadillas
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
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There is nothing subtle or simple about huitlacoche — known in Mexico as corn fungus or corn smut. Its black fungus-y appearance is a bit startling, but its pungent, earthy taste combines beautifully with sauteed serrano peppers, chopped onion and garlic. Nobel laureate Octavio Paz wrote that huitlacoche, which the Aztecs also enjoyed, is a symbol of Mexican culture with its communion of flavors, passionate color and robustness.

You can also leave out the cheese and eat it like a taco. In some of Mexico’s finest restaurants, huitlacoche is treated like a truffle.

From the story: The joys of Mexican vegetarian dishes

1

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, garlic and minced peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the huitlacoche and heat until it begins to bubble, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and set aside.

2

Assemble the quesadillas: Heat a tortilla on the stovetop (this can be done directly on the stovetop or using a comal, or griddle pan). Add sliced cheese to one-half of the tortilla, and when it has melted, add a scoop of the huitlacoche mixture. Fold the tortilla over and hold in a warm place until all of the quesadillas have been assembled. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.

Huitlacoche can be found at select Latin markets; call ahead to make sure. It is also available online.