I grew up making quesadillas, the benefit of having a Hispanic mother who is a great cook. “Queso” is cheese in Spanish. A quesadilla is a heated tortilla with melted cheese inside. But in addition to cheese, you can put practically anything in a quesadilla. My favorites are mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, and onions. I don’t cook these ingredients first, but it really is a matter of taste. You could if you wanted to.
Traditionally in Mexico quesadillas are made with corn tortillas, not wheat flour tortillas, and a melty white cheese. Here in the states though, because of how close we are to the Sonoran area of northern Mexico, quesadillas are more often made with flour tortillas. We like to get the flour tortillas lightly toasted because it improves the flavor.
- Large flour tortillas
- Grated cheese - either mild or sharp cheddar, or Monterey Jack
- Olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Sliced mushrooms
- Green onions
- Black olives, sliced
- Fresh tomatoes, diced
- Chicken pieces
- Apple cider vinegar
1 Heat a large cast iron frying pan to medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula (you could use butter as well). Take one large flour tortilla and place it in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, 10 seconds between flips. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla.
2 When pockets of air begin to form, take a handful of grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla, making sure that the cheese does not land on the pan itself. Add whatever additional ingredients you choose - green onion, sliced mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. If you would like your quesadilla to be a chicken quesadilla, add some diced cooked chicken. Take care not to layer on the ingredients to thickly - this is a quesadilla, not a quiche.
3 Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The cast iron pan should be hot enough by now to have plenty of residual heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke too much, remove from the heat. After a minute, check to see if the cheese is melted. If not, return the cover and keep checking every minute until the cheese is melted. When the cheese is sufficiently melted, use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side, as if you were making an omelette. The tortilla should by now be browned slightly. If it is not browned, turn the heat up to high and flip the quesadilla over every 10 seconds or so until it gets browned. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.
To make the lettuce to accompany the quesadilla, thinly slice some iceberg lettuce. Sprinkle some cider vinegar on it and some salt.