Posted by on Thursday, July 12, 2012 in One Dish Two Ways

My carnivore guy and my vegetarian self are trying hard to get used to this raising-a-baby business. And with our sweet but busy babe keeping us on our toes (and running us a little ragged in the process), we need lots and lots of fast, easy, and flexible dinner ideas in our repertoire.

And so I thought I’d share one of them with you. Quesadillas, baby! They’re like a Mexican grilled cheese, but more versatile and, I think, probably healthier overall – more veggies, for one, and a tortilla in place of buttered bread. They’re about as straightforward as you can get – a tortilla filled with veggies and/or meat and topped with cheese, then folded over and cooked until the cheese is gooey and the tortilla’s nice and golden-crisp.

You can pick ‘em up by hand, or eat ‘em with a fork. Top them off with sliced avocado or guacamole, chopped scallions, salsa or pico de gallo, and/or sour cream. Serve them alongside a salad for a complete meal, or just stuff a ton of veggies in the quesadilla instead and say “salad, schmalad.”

And, of course, they’re perfect for mixed-diet kitchens. Add slices of chicken or beef for the carnivores, omit the meat for the others. Just cook up the veggie versions first, if you’re using the same pan or appliance. No tainting with the meat juices! I try to be an open-minded vegetarian but tainting = bad. ;)

We use a panini press for our quesadillas (and burritos too); the awesomeness of the panini press makes cooking these things a breeze, and – bonus! – no oil is needed when you cook them this way.

 

Quesadillas are even quicker and easier when you plan to fill them with leftovers from the night before. We cooked up a big batch of veggies on the BBQ on Tuesday night, then enjoyed grilled-veggie-stuffed quesadillas on Wednesday. This batch included grilled summer squash, zucchini, yellow bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, and sweet onions, along with leftover grilled chicken for the carnivore.

 

Quick & Easy Dinner: Quesadillas
 
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Perfect for the mixed-diet household, quesadillas are easy to customize (just add meat for the carnivores), quick to make, and satisfying. Flour tortillas are stuffed with onions, peppers, and other fixings, topped with cheese, and cooked until the tortilla is golden-brown and the cheese melts to perfection. This recipe is just a guideline; feel free to play with the ingredients and make it your own! This recipe makes four quesadillas.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Yield: 4 quesadillas
Ingredients
  • 1 – 1½ cups veggies cut into strips like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, sliced portobello mushrooms, and/or summer squash
  • 4 8- or 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1½ – 2 cups shredded cheese like cheddar, monterey jack, or pepper jack
  • A handful of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Sliced cooked chicken breast or strips of cooked beef
  • Salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, avocado, and or guacamole to top
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on medium-high for about 8 minutes, until tender. Or in a large saute pan with a little olive or vegetable oil over medium-high heat, saute vegetables until tender. Set aside.
  2. Lay the tortilla flat, and on the bottom half only, evenly lay ¼ of the veggies, a sprinkle of beans if using, and four or five strips of meat. Sprinkle ¼ of the cheese (approx. ⅓ cup) over the filling ingredients.
  3. Carefully fold the top half over so the quesadilla is a half-moon shape.
  4. Place the quesadilla in a panini press and cook until cheese is melted and outside is golden-crisp, or cook in a saute pan drizzled with vegetable, canola, or olive oil over medium-high heat, carefully flipping occasionally, until the cheese is melted and both sides are golden-brown.
  5. Serve with salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, avocado, and or guacamole as condiments.