4 quick ways with Quesadillas

It’s hot and you’re hungry, and you don’t want to mess around too much. You always have a supply of flour tortillas at hand because you slick them with a little mayonnaise, then wrap them around leftovers and call it lunch. With very little more effort, you can fashion these handy “sandwich” makers into quesadillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Get the medium-size tortillas, not the huge burrito wraps, unless you’re immensely hungry and have a gigantic frying pan. Putting together a quesadilla or two for a meal is not rocket surgery, as we know, but here are some suggestions about what makes tasty inclusions, besides the cheese.

In case you were wondering, the word quesadilla is derived from the Spanish word queso (cheese) and the dish originated in Mexico. Check Salsita, a great Mexican grocery on Northmount Dr. and 14th St. NW, for the “proper” quesadilla cheese, Oaxaca cheese, a string-style melting cheese. Tres Marias, in Marda Loop, makes corn and flour tortillas as well as organic spelt flour tortillas.

Breakfast Quesadilla

This would even do for any other time of the day. Grate some good melting cheese, like Oaxaca cheese, or even cheddar or jack would do. Lay out your flour tortilla and sprinkle the cheese over. On top of the cheese, spread a good layer of hot pepper jelly or marmalade or a favourite jam, then fold the tortilla in half. Heat a non-stick frypan and melt a small bit of butter. Fry the quesadilla on one side until golden, then flip it and fry the other side until golden and the cheese has melted a bit. Cut it into wedges and enjoy with your java. Serves you.

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas

From The Best of the Best Best of Bridge cookbook. Char 1 Anaheim and 1 red bell pepper by quartering them, removing stem and seeds, and setting them under the broiler, cut-sides down, until the skin blackens. Put them into a paper bag to steam, remove the skins, and slice into strips. Mix together 1/4 c. chèvre and 1/4 c. cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Spread the mixture over 3 flour tortillas, top with pepper strips, layer slices of 1 avocado on top of the peppers and sprinkle with 1/4 c. minced shallots. Cut 2 oz. smoked salmon into strips and lay them on the tortillas. Fold the tortillas over, pressing lightly to seal. Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat and fry the tortillas until golden and the cheese has melted a bit. Flip and fry the other side until golden. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 2 or 3.

Refried Beans and Cheese Quesadillas

From the Heart and Stroke Foundation. To make refried beans, peel and dice 1 sweet potato and boil it until tender. Drain and set aside. In a frypan, heat 1 t. olive oil and cook 1/2 c. diced onion until soft. Add 1 minced garlic clove, 1 can (19 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed, 1 t. ground cumin, 1/2 t. each dried oregano and chile powder, 1/4 t. black pepper and the sweet potato. Cook until hot. Purée in a food processor or mash well. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay 4 whole-grain tortillas on the baking sheet and top with 1/2 c. of beans, 1/2 c. shredded lower-fat (light) cheese and 1/2 c. seeded, finely diced tomatoes. Top with a second tortilla and press lightly. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Cut each quesadilla into four and serve with 1/2 c. fat-free sour cream. Serves 4.

Dessert Quesadillas

Adapted from a Chatelaine recipe. Top 4 flour tortillas with about 1 c. diced brie cheese, 1 mango, peeled and sliced, and 3 T. minced pickled jalapeño, patted dry. Fold the tortillas in half. Heat a non-stick frypan and melt a small bit of butter. Fry the quesadillas on one side until golden, then flip and fry the other side until golden and the cheese has melted a bit. Keep the quesadillas warm in a 350°F. oven until they are all cooked. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with a dip made with crème fraîche or sour cream, lime zest and lime juice to taste. Serves 4.