Hibiscus Quesadillas (Quesadilla con Flor de Jamaica)

Hibiscus Quesadillas (Quesadilla con Flor de Jamaica)

Dried hibiscus is cheap and plentiful, usually available in specialty grocery stores or international supermarket bulk bins. It has a place in kitchens around the world, in drinks and syrups and remedies and stews. The calyxes of the flower — the part we actually eat — also happen to have a high pectin content, making them ideal for jelly making. Lately, the ingredient has been marketed as a kind of health food, or meat substitute, but the ingredient has deep, ancient roots and stands on its own. Adriana Almazán Lahl, who owns a catering business in San Francisco, rehydrates the flowers and sautés them with onion and chiles, then folds the spicy mixture into flour tortillas with a little cheese. The result is a quick, delicious meal, and an excellent way to use up the entire flower. Be sure to rinse the hibiscus well before you get started; grit hides in its folds.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Rinse hibiscus under running water to remove any grit. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add hibiscus, and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid for another use (see introduction). Rinse and chop the hibiscus.
  2. Step 2

    In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and jalapeño, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to lightly brown, about 6 minutes. Add the hibiscus, and sauté until the mixture is shiny and most of the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, and set aside. Wipe out skillet.
  3. Step 3

    Divide the cheese evenly among the tortillas, sprinkling it to cover 1/2 of each. Scatter the hibiscus mixture on top of the cheese, followed by the cilantro. Fold the tortillas over the filling into half-moon shapes, pressing down firmly.
  4. Step 4

    Add the remaining oil to the skillet, and heat over a medium flame. Gently slide 2 quesadillas into the hot pan, and cook until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is golden brown underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip quesadillas, and cook until the other side is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas, and serve immediately.