I love Mexican food, probably a little too much if I am honest. Taco salad is my absolute favorite (a recipe that will be in my cookbook), but second to that is now my quesadilla recipe. I came up with it recently because I have 1) been insanely busy at work; and 2) I have had two separate dinner parties for vegetarians and needed something quick and easy. I came up with the recipe on my way home from the craziest day—I had several meetings after 4:00pm, which lasted until 7:00pm and my guest was due at 8:00pm. As I was driving to the grocery store, praying I made it home before my guest arrived, I was racking my brain for an easy, go-to recipe and, of course Mexican popped into my head. My taco salad was out of the question because it is made with ground turkey, but vegetable quesadillas came to my mind instantly and the recipe unfolded as if I had made it 1,000 times before. A little nervous–I generally don’t like to make things from scratch for the first time at a dinner party, but I was running out of time. I got to the grocery store; purchased the ingredients, some corona lights, and a couple of bottles of wine; and rushed home to prepare my Mexican fiesta.
I think this recipe is best served with chips and salsa as the appetizer, but feel free to also add a queso dip or guacamole. Also, I suggest serving them with Micheladas, margaritas (a future post), or white wine. As a side note you can also serve the quesadillas as an appetizer – just follow the directions below, but instead of folding the tortillas in half, place the toppings on a tortilla like a pizza, putting a second tortilla on top, and finishing them off in the oven. Using a pizza cutter, slice the tortillas into four sections and serve.
3 Peppers (I buy the tricolor pack, which contains a green, yellow, and red pepper)
1 small Vidalia onion
1 package mushrooms (I buy the pre-sliced package to make it easy)
1 tablespoon butter*
2 teaspoons olive oil*
Pam Cooking Spray (I use the olive oil flavored spray)
4 plum tomatoes
1 package shredded cheese (I use Lucerne Mexican Four Cheese Blend, which includes a blend of Medium Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero and Queso Quesadilla Cheeses)
1 package flour tortillas, I use about 5 to 7 tortillas (I have found Piñata Flour Tortillas are the best brand for this recipe)
Light sour cream (optional)
Hot Sauce (I use both Original Cholula Hot Sauce and Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce) (optional)
Salsa (My favorite is Tostitos Chunky Salsa, Medium) (optional)
Sliced Jalapenos (optional)
*(NOTE: I use both butter and olive oil when cooking—butter for the flavor and olive oil because it heats quickly and evenly)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut the peppers and onion lengthwise into strips (about the size of your index finger).
3. Next, put the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat with olive oil and butter.
4. Place the onions and pepper in the heated skillet and sauté until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
5. While the peppers and onions are cooking, place a small skillet on the stove, sprayed lightly with Pam Cooking Spray, over medium-high heat and warm the tortillas—about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (NOTE: Use cooking spray as needed when cooking the rest of the tortillas).
6. Next, take a baking dish and place a tortilla in the bottom. On one half, place a desired amount of peppers and onions (about ½ cup to ¾ cup) and top with cheese (about ¼ cup).
7. Once ingredients have been added, fold the tortilla in half, pressing lightly to seal. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. As noted above, I find it usually makes 5 to 7 quesadillas, depending on how much of the onion and pepper mixture is used per tortilla.
8. Once all the tortillas have been filled and folded, place the baking dish in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes (until cheese has melted).
9. While the quesadillas are cooking, chop the tomatoes and avocado.
10. To serve, transfer a quesadilla onto a plate and top with a generous amount of diced tomatoes and avocado. I then serve jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, and hot sauce on the side for my guest(s) to add individually.