Have you ever had a really good quesadilla? Like at a restaurant? Now I generally don't go for quesadillas (it's one of the suggestions my husband often makes when I'm out of ideas or didn't meal plan and he almost always gets shot down). But, back when I was interning in DC there was a Tex Mex place, Tortilla Coast, that had a special place in my heart. My roommate and friends frequented it. Tortilla Coast made a dang good spinach and mushroom quesadilla I got hooked on during Lent. One of our friends, an observant Catholic, didn't eat meat during Lent, so he was pretty limited on his selections for those 40 days.
Anyway, all this to say, I've just been converted to the homemade quesadilla. Armed with some knowledge of how to make a good quesadilla, inspired by these zucchini, corn and black bean quesadillas (pinned here) and with a big ol' yellow summer squash in the fridge I made some of the best quesadillas in my life. We fed the missionaries that night, and when 19-21 year old boys start asking about the recipe, you know you have a winner!
Okay, here's how to make a really good, restaurant quality quesadilla (hint: it's the same way restaurants make everything taste better, more fat and more salt):
Turn on your pan to medium heat. I usually turn ours to just above medium heat and use a cast iron skillet. You want it warm enough to brown, but not too hot that it burns the tortilla before your cheese melts. And don't get so impatient (ahem, self) that you turn it way up at first because then your skillet will get too hot and you'll end up grateful your husband likes things extra toasty.
Oil your tortilla on one side. I use olive oil.
Spread the oil with a pastry brush. You should have just enough oil to get a fine layer across the whole tortilla.
Sprinkle the oiled tortilla with salt. I use kosher, and probably about 1/8 of a teaspoon, if that.
Put the tortilla, oiled side down, on to the hot skillet.
Oil the top of the tortilla (this was a little too much oil and I ended up rubbing the next tortilla on this to share the heavy-handed dose) and again, sprinkle with salt.
Flip tortilla when it is golden brown on the bottom.
Add fillings on half of tortilla. I prefer to put my cheese on first so it starts melting and then adding my warm filling on top of the cheese.
Fold tortilla in half over filling, browning both sides of the tortilla.
Ooey, gooey cheese and delicious filling
Serve the finished product with a dollop of sour cream and guacamole, if you happen to have it on hand.
As for the filling, here's my squash, mushroom and black bean version:
- 2 cups diced yellow squash or zucchini
- 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
- 4 large white mushrooms, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- grated cheese, I used a mix of Colby Jack and pepper jack
- cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne pepper, Sriracha hot sauce, salt and pepper
Assemble quesadilla as shown above.
Okay, I think I can stop raving about these quesadillas now that I have them written down for posterity.
But seriously, they were so good.
PS- Did you say "cay-sa-dill-a" in your head every time I wrote quesadilla, or was that just me? Thanks Napoleon Dynomite.