Quesadillas are one of the most versatile of all light meals or appetizers. Literally translated, quesadilla means “cheese detail.” Restaurants in Old Mexico serve a much simpler version of quesadillas. There, generally, a quesadilla is a freshly baked corn tortilla oozing with quick-melting cheese and served with a side dish of freshly made salsa. Sometimes they are fried, though often not. This is a good snack. However, quesadillas have benefited from enormous innovations in Southwestern cooking in the United States in the past few years. You can find quesadillas made with all kinds of fillings—any kind of cheese paired with meats, seafood, stewed or seared vegetables, and a vast assortment of salsas. Dessert quesadillas are even possible.
Quesadillas are one of the most fun foods to garnish and present in creative and pretty ways. Just use your favorite or on-hand ingredients and let your imagination roll. In our cooking schools we are constantly surprised by how many ways our students prepare beautiful and flavorful quesadillas. Don’t forget salsas, squirt bottles, and confetti tosses of chiles and minced parsley.
The three constants for quesadillas are whéat-flour tortillas, quick-melting cheese, and pickled jalapeños.
Cooking Time2 min
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
OccasionFamily Get-together, game day
Recipe Coursemain course, snack
Dietary Considerationmain course, snack
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Mealdinner, kid snack, lunch, snack
Moodblue, stressed, tired
Taste and Texturecheesy
Type of Dishsandwich
- 1 teaspoon butter, melted
- 1 wheat-flour tortilla (10- to 12-inch size)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese combination or any substitution, such as goat cheese, Asadero, or other quick-melting cheese
- 6 to 8 slices pickled jalapeños
- Other fillings as desired: sautéed chorizo, sliced grilled chicken, baby shrimp, cooked pinto or black beans, chilied meats, any sliced seared vegetables, chopped onion and tomato
Preheat a comal (Mexican flat griddle), tapa, or griddle to medium heat. Brush some of the butter lightly in the shape of half a tortilla on one side of the comal.
Place the tortilla on the butter. Place the cheese on the buttered half of the tortilla, allowing a ½-inch margin around the edge of the tortilla. Scatter the jalapeño slices and any other fillings over the cheese.
When the cheese starts to melt, fold the other half of the tortilla over the fillings and lightly press until the edges hold together. Brush the top with more of the butter. Flip the quesadilla by gently placing a pancake turner under the curved edges of the quesadilla and rolling it over. Cook until browned. Remove from the heat, slice into 4 or more sections, and garnish as desired. Serve warm.
1998 Jane Butel