A quesadilla, at least the way I’ve always experienced them, is pretty much the Mexican equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich. They are quick, they are yummy, they are versatile. You can have them as an appetizer, a snack, or as a main. You can vary them based on fillings, accompaniments, and how you “dress them.”
As Wikipedia tells us:
A quesadilla (Spanish pronunciation: [kesaˈðiʎa]) is a flour or corn tortilla filled with a savoury mixture containing cheese and other ingredients, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. This dish originated in Mexico, and the name is derived from the Spanish word queso (cheese).
A quesadilla is made with a tortilla and is filled primarily with cheese; other ingredients, such as cooked meat, refried beans, avocado, or other vegetables may be added. The filled tortilla is then toasted or fried, usually until the cheese is melted. Once the quesadilla is cooked, it is traditionally cut into slices or wedges.
In central and southern regions of Mexico, a quesadilla is a flat circle of cooked corn masa, called a tortilla, warmed to soften it enough to be folded in half, and then filled.
he quesadilla is a regional favorite in the Southwest, United States where it is analogous to a ‘grilled cheese sandwich.’ It is prepared in a similar manner except for the inclusion of local ingredients. A flour tortilla is heated on a griddle, then flipped and sprinkled with a grated, melting cheese (queso quesadilla), such as Monterey Jack, Cheddar cheese or Colby Jack. Once the cheese melts, other ingredients; such as shredded meat, peppers, onions or guacamole may be added, and it is then folded and served.
Another preparation involves cheese and other ingredients sandwiched between two flour tortillas, with the whole package grilled on an oiled griddle and flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted. This version is often cut into wedges to serve. A home appliance (quesadilla maker) is sold to produce this kind of quesadilla, although it does not use oil and cooks both sides at once. This type is similar to the Mexican sincronizada; but in the United States, they often also have roast beef or other ingredients instead of ham.
While you can make your quesadillas with a larger (burrito-sized, say) tortilla that you fold in half, I make mine with two of the smaller fajita-sized tortillas. We have most recently enjoyed eating them as an accompaniment to Black Bean Soup, but they’re yummy on their own or with other dishes.
They come together quickly and easily — provided you already have some grated cheese on hand — and trust me, peoples, grate your own cheese! The pre-grated stuff is coated with something or other to keep it from sticking together, which is why it doesn’t melt as well or have as much flavor as cheese you grate yourself. The basic quesadilla is tortilla (you can use corn, but I usually use flour tortillas) and cheese, but you can add any number of additional fillings — tomato, avocado, beans, cooked seasoned shredded or ground meat, scrambled or fried egg — remember to prick the yolk of the egg when you cook it so you don’t end up with egg on your face! 😉 — cilantro, diced or sliced chilies or jalapeños, sliced olives, whatever your heart desires — and you can also dress it however you like — serve along with sliced avocado or guacamole, salsa, (reduced-fat) sour cream or Greek yogurt, hot sauce, whatever floats your boat.
As this short little song shows you, the varieties of quesadillas are virtually infinite. (Go on, take 42 seconds out of your life to watch and listen — you know you want to!)
I simply use my non-stick skillet to make my quesadillas — usually without any oil at all in the pan, but if you feel the need, with a non-stick skillet, you’ll only need the barest whisper of oil (as in, just add a wee bit of oil and spread it around in your non-stick skillet with a bit of paper towel). If you make your quesadillas with corn tortillas, you will need a bit of oil in the pan to ensure the tortilla comes out crispy, not chewy. If you prefer, if you have a grill pan or grill, you can toast them up on the grill — you may want to brush the outside (grill-side) of the tortillas lightly with oil if you make them on the grill.
Easy Basic Quesdadilla (Make as many or as few as you want, but make only what you’ll eat — these are best eaten fresh)
- Tortillas (corn or flour; I generally use fajita-sized flour tortillas)
- Desired grated cheeses (I usually use reduced-fat and will often do a variety)
- Any additional desired fillings or dressings: additional fillings — tomato, avocado, beans, cooked seasoned shredded or ground meat, scrambled or fried egg — remember to prick the yolk of the egg when you cook it so you don’t end up with egg on your face! 😉 — cilantro, diced or sliced chilies or jalapeños, sliced olives, whatever your heart desires — and you can also dress it however you like — serve along with sliced avocado or guacamole, salsa, (reduced-fat) sour cream or Greek yogurt, hot sauce, whatever floats your boat.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. (NOTE: You can also cook these on a grill pan or on a grill, if you prefer).
- Place tortilla in skillet. Sprinkle with cheese and other desired fillings to within 1/2″ to 1/3″ of the edge of the tortilla. (If using a large — say, burrito-sized tortilla — that you intend to fold in half, then only fill half the tortilla.)
- Top with a second tortilla.
- Once bottom tortilla has begun to brown and crisp a bit, flip over (just as one would for a grilled cheese sandwich) to brown and crisp the other side. (If making with a large tortilla, fold the tortilla over once the cheese is melted and the tortilla has browned and crisped a bit).
- Cut into wedges and “dress” it as you desire!