Crispy, salty, toasted grasshoppers actually add a nice crunch to a cheesy quesadilla. (Never though I'd say that!) Have you ever tried eating grasshoppers? [Skip to recipe.]
Yup, and they were actually quite tasty.
When my friend Christine said she and her husband Gilbert had brought some grasshoppers back from Mexico and they were having us over for dinner so we could try them, I kinda gulped. As a 'foodie', I now have a reputation to uphold. I need to be open-minded about all kinds of food. But INSECTS?!!!!
I couldn't look like a wuss, so I gamely (and kind of weakly) said, Sure, I'm into eating grasshoppers. However, all week, Raymond and I kept thinking, Maybe we should make up an excuse not to go, and Well, how bad can they really be? and I mean, they're considered a delicacy in Mexico, right?
I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Certainly not a big tray filled with the crunchy, mahogany-hued critters - looking very . . . um . . . 'grasshoppery'.
Called chapulines, they are a popular snack in certain areas of Mexico, sold in big piles in markets during summer and early autumn. To prepare them, the grasshoppers are thoroughly cleaned, then toasted on a comal (flat clay cooking griddle) with salt, and other spices like garlic, lime juice, or guajillo chilis. The end result is an extra crispy, tasty little snack that's high in protein and low in fat - beats potato chips, hands down, in the nutrition department. In Mexico, roasted or fried grasshoppers are a bar snack eaten with beer, sold at sporting events in some areas (like Oaxaca), and just munched on for a crunchy treat.
I did try a couple grasshoppers just like that, and they weren't that bad - salty, a bit yeasty, and spicy from the flavourings. When Christine added them to crusty quesadillas oozing melted cheese and zippy salsa, those grasshoppers became stars. They added a wonderful crunch and another layer of subtle flavour. The verdict: Delicious!
. . . or Substitute Pumpkin Seeds for the Grasshoppers
Though, if you're just not into eating grasshoppers, or don't have connections to the Mexican insect-importing black market, you can substitute crunchy roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for a good quesadilla variation.
(If you're really into grasshoppers you can pile them up much more thickly than this.)
I'm glad I tried eating grasshoppers. It was a new frontier for me - this eating of insects. Though my friends tell me that ant larvae are another real delicacy in Mexico. That's a whole different story entirely. I don't think I could eat those . . .
But, shhhhh, I'll let you in on a secret . . . . they sent me home with a bag of roasted grasshoppers, and I'm going to serve grasshopper quesadillas to my mom, sister, and her family, who are coming to spend some of the Christmas holidays with us.
We'll see if they're as brave as me 😉
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Grasshopper (or Pepita) Quesadillas
- small corn tortillas (or flour tortillas)
- slices of a good melting cheese - like Fruilano or cheddar
- roasted, salted grasshoppers (or roasted, salted pumpkin seeds/pepitas)
- green tomatillo salsa or red tomato salsa, for serving
- sour cream, for serving (optional)
Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the tortillas into water, wetting both sides, or wet them under running water from the faucet. Heat the tortillas in the skillet until brown spots appear, flipping them to cook both sides.
Lay a thick slice of cheese onto one side of each tortilla in the skillet, then fold the other side over it like a book cover. Cook until the bottom is crispy and the cheese is starting to melt, then flip the folded tortilla over to cook the other side.
Remove the tortillas to a plate, open each one up and add a small handful of roasted grasshoppers or pumpkin seeds on top of the melted cheese. Add a drizzle of red or green salsa down the center and close the tortilla back up.
Serve with sour cream and additional salsa for dipping.
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