The basic formula for a quesadilla includes your choice of tortillas, such as wheat, white corn, or yellow corn, and cheese, such as Cotija (a sharp Mexican cheese), Jack, pepper Jack, cheddar, Gruyère, Gouda, or goat cheese. Embellishments range from spicy to sweet; in this recipe from Man Made Meals, you will find three variations to use.
The traditional pan for cooking quesadillas is a sort of Mexican griddle called a comal. You can use a large (10- to 12-inch) cast-iron or nonstick skillet instead. As you can imagine, America’s “master griller” (Esquire) and cookbook author Steven Raichlen‘s kind of quesadilla is grilled. Lightly brush the outside of the quesadillas with melted butter or oil and grill them directly over a medium flame. For perfect grilled quesadillas, use a quesadilla basket! Enter for a chance to win one below!
Your Basic Quesadilla (and Variations)
Makes 2 quesadillas
For the quesadillas:
- 2 flour tortillas (each 8 inches across—if using smaller corn tortillas, use 2 per quesadilla to make a sandwich without folding)
- 3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
- ¾ cup (about 3 ounces) grated Jack, pepper Jack, or white cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature or vegetable oil
- Your choice of store-bought or homemade salsa (optional), for serving
For the add-ins (optional):
- 1 fresh or pickled jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (for milder quesadillas, remove the seeds)
- 1 scallion, trimmed, both white and green parts thinly sliced crosswise
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted olives
- 3 tablespoons diced fresh tomato
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Place a tortilla on a work surface. Spread one half of the tortilla with half of the sour cream, if using. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese on top of the sour cream. Dot the cheese with half of the jalapeño, scallion, olives, tomato, and/or cilantro, if using. Fold the bare half of the tortilla over the filling. Repeat with the second tortilla.
- Melt or heat ½ tablespoon (1½ teaspoons) butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom. Add the quesadillas, taking care not to spill the filling. Cook the quesadillas until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Using a spatula, carefully turn the quesadillas over, adding the remaining butter or oil to the skillet. Continue cooking the quesadillas until the second side is browned and crisp and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve the quesadillas whole as sandwiches or cut each into 4 wedges with a knife or pizza cutter to serve as an appetizer. If desired, serve salsa on the side for spooning or dipping.
Bacon cheddar quesadillas: Prepare the quesadillas as described in the basic recipe using grated cheddar cheese and adding slices of fried bacon. (For extra extravagance, fry the bacon in the skillet you are going to use to cook the quesadillas, then brown the quesadillas in the bacon fat.)
Dutch ham and cheese quesadillas: Prepare the quesadillas as described in the basic recipe using grated aged Gouda cheese or spiced Leiden cheese (a semi-firm cheese flavored with cumin seeds), diced smoked ham, and mustard.
Mango shrimp quesadillas: Prepare the quesadillas as described in the basic recipe dividing ¼ cup each diced ripe mango and peeled and diced cooked shrimp between them. The dice should be about ¼ inch in size. These quesadillas are especially good made with grated Manchego cheese.
Get these recipes and more variations on the quesadilla theme in Man Made Meals!
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Steven Raichlen is America’s “master griller” (Esquire), author of the bestselling, award-winning Barbecue! Bible cookbooks. Three of his cookbooks are priced at $2.99 this month – don’t miss out! See the deals HERE.