Quesadillas have been around for so long, and are so simple, that they’re often overlooked.
This is unfortunate, since they’re a delicious and quick meal to make – not to mention, they’re a hit with the kids!
Don’t believe us? Just look at fast food joints such as Taco Bell, where they list Chicken Quesadillas on the menu for just $3.99.
Not a bad price, but for just a bit more money you can make three times the quantity of food at a better quality.
A bit of history
Translated, quesadilla actually means little cheesy thing, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Tortillas reach as far back as the Aztec civilizations of the early 1300s. With corn as a staple of their farming society, tortillas were easy to make and featured in many meals. Luckily this dish carried over into modern cuisine and the quesadilla came into existence.
With the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s, dairy products came on the scene – cheese in particular.
Eventually cheese replaced the traditional squash/pumpkin that quesadillas were stuffed with, and we were given the simple and delicious dish we recognize today.
Here’s our version of a basic quesadilla, plus a few additional items to spice it up a bit:
- Tortillas preferably 8 inches or larger
- ½ cup grated cheese commonly cheddar, but a mix is just as delicious
- Chopped red or yellow peppers
- Chopped yellow or white onion
- ¼ cup pinto or black beans
Hint: If you like a bit of spice, add some diced jalapeno.
Heat a skillet large enough to fit the tortilla, flat, on its surface. Warm the tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side, until it begins to brown a bit.
After the second flip, sprinkle half of the tortilla with cheese.
Add peppers, onions, and beans before folding the tortilla in half, brushing the top with oil, and flipping it once more.
After first one, and then the other side is lightly browned, remove the tortilla. Cut into wedges and serve with one of our side options below!
What makes a really, really great quesadilla?
Sure, a plain cheese quesadilla is probably more than enough to thrill the kids. But for us adults, we need a bit more flavor in our lives.
Luckily the Mexican cuisine scene has a strong history of delicious sides and toppings, each a viable option for serving quesadillas.
Having a party? Keep the quesadillas basic, and spread out an array or sides for your guests to choose their poison.
- Pico de gallo. Pico is a type of salsa, typically less watery than the salsa that Americans are used to buying in jars. Served at room temperature, it’s rich in flavor and a wonderful option not only for topping quesadillas, but for serving with chips.
- Or go the more traditional route with a salsa made from tomatoes, lime, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Don’t forget those herbs – they’re an important part of adding that flavor that will satisfy your cravings.
- Easily made at home but often purchased for a few more bucks as a side option at fast food restaurants, guac is a creamy and tangy addition to quesadillas. It’s easier to manipulate than pico or salsa, able to be spread on any surface heading directly for your mouth!
- Hot sauce. Not exactly traditional, but definitely delicious. Hot sauce and cheese pair surprisingly nicely, and give thrill seekers that burn they love.
We bulked our quesadilla recipe up with vegetables – a neat trick to try with kids who aren’t too into eating the more nutritious foods – but you can always add a few more things for a more filling meal or to meet those dietary needs.
For example, chicken quesadillas are a popular menu item in many restaurants.
Shredded chicken is best for this recipe. For a quick solution, buy a store-roasted chicken and go at it with two forks. If you’d rather make a less salty alternative, buy a pack of chicken breasts or thighs (thighs if you prefer darker meat) and cook in a skillet until browned and cooked completely through. Pull the chicken apart by hand or with forks, and adding a squeeze of lime on top is a great addition!
To take a step off of the path of tradition, add some spinach and mushrooms to your quesadilla, either with or without chicken. This is a great option for vegetarians looking for some variety. You can add the spinach fresh as it’ll steam down as you finish the quesadilla off in the pan. Consider sautéing up the mushrooms before adding them – whatever kind you like – but slice them thin enough to keep the quesadilla a manageable size.
If you’re a parent feeding a group of hungry kids, quesadillas could be a great solution. They’re easy to make in large quantities and can be packed in foil for a quick snack.