Quesadillas: The Mexican Cheese Toastie

A quesadilla is a tasty dish made using a corn or wheat tortilla which is then grilled with cheese, either between two flat tortillas or between the folds of one. Quesadillas are very easy to make with a wide variety of ingredients so there is sure to be a combination of quesadilla fillings that will please almost everyone. If you are looking for a no-fuss meal but are tired of toasted sandwiches as an “emergency meal” then quesadillas are worth trying.

Simple Cheese and Corn Quesadilla
The simplest quesadilla recipe requires just a corn tortilla and cheese. The kind of cheese can vary, of course, according to personal taste, but the two most often used are a soft milky cheese, such as mozzarella, or a mild cheddar. Cheese lovers might like to use a sharper flavoured cheese, or even mix in some blue vein. (The best combination is probably a mix of gooey and sharp cheeses.)

Put some oil or butter in a hot frying pan and place one flour or corn tortilla in the pan. Turn the tortilla until it is slightly brown on each side, and then add the grated cheese. Make sure the cheese stays on the tortilla and does not directly touch the hot pan. Put a cover on the pan and reduce the heat.

Check to see if the cheese is melted and, when it is, using a spatula, flip half the tortilla over to cover the other side. The tortilla should be toasted nicely, if not, turn up the heat and flip it until it browns. Remove the quesadilla from the heat and cut it into wedges. The quesadilla is best eaten while it is still hot and the cheese is runny.

Preparing Quesadilla Ingredients Ahead
At the point where you add the cheese, you can add other ingredients to make different kinds of quesadillas. If you add meat such as chicken pieces, ham, bacon or ground beef, it should be pre-cooked, but everything else can be added raw and will cook slightly, but not too much. Part of the delight of a quesadilla is the slightly steamed crunchy vegetables in the melted cheese. Sliced mushrooms, chives or shallots, fresh diced tomatoes and black olives are some popular additions.

Vegetarian Quesadillas
One suggestion for tasty vegetarian quesadillas is to cut into small pieces onions, mushrooms, green capsicum, cabbage and tomatoes (or any other vegetable which is in season, cooks quickly, and can be diced). The onions, capsicum and mushrooms can be lightly sautéed first then combined with the raw cabbage and tomatoes.

After the initial toasting of the tortilla, the combined vegetable mixture can be added on top of a thin layer of cheese to complete your quesadilla filling.

Asian-Inspired Quesadillas
For a more exotic quesadilla try adding meat, one of two vegetable fillings and experiment with different sauces. You might like to try lean grilled chicken with strips of red capsicum, chopped spinach and a sweet and spicy sauce.

Alternatively, try a BBQ sauce with minced beef and iceberg lettace, or pork strips, coriander, shallots and shredded Chinese cabbage with hoi sin or BBQ sauces. For lovers of spicy foods, a squirt of hot red chilli sauce in with your other quesadilla fillings will provide some added kick.

Basil And Tomato Quesadilla
If your palette is softer and favours more European flavours, try an Italian-style quesadilla. Combine grated mozzarella cheese with diced roma tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes halved), torn fresh basil leaves and sautéed minced garlic on a white flour tortilla.

Lemon Prawn Quesadillas
Quesadillas are also great with seafood, so if flavours from the sea are more to your taste, a quesadilla with fresh prawns is worth trying. In a bowl combine lemon juice with cooked, shelled prawns, some chopped jalapeno chillis, chives and coriander. Add a little freshly ground sea salt and let the mixture blend for 10 minutes, then drain. Toast your tortilla, put a thin layer of very mild cheese over the tortilla then add your prawn mixture. Heat through and when cheese is melted, spoon a little sour cream onto it, a few more fresh chopped chives if desired, fold in half and serve your quesadilla immediately.